## Posts

Showing posts from 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 - Understanding the Glue

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 n

### Fame at last

Someone asked me today "how famous do you think FreeMIS is?" - a question that was clearly going somewhere. I mumbled some non-comittal waffle, and was then presented with a copy of issue 65 of Linux User . There's an article about this year's FLOSSIE , which mentions my 5 minute slot about FreeMIS. At the risk of consuming too much of your precious bandwidth, allow me to reproduce my mention in its entirety: Robert Jones' (sic) FreeMIS, developed with Ruby-on-Rails, had come from a different direction - based on the need to report to parents. As it is currently used in Scotland, it uses Shibboleth for single sign-on. (c) R Smedley Shibboleth SSO for FreeMIS is actually "in development", but apart from that it's all true :) The article has a link to the demo site - this explains the recent spike in visits to the demo.

### First Rehearsal

We had our first rehearsal tonight for "Over My Dead Body". A cock-up with hall booking meant that we ended up in a small room trying to "block" the first act - sort out the moves. This was not ideal, but it was fun to get started, and some lines in the play make me laugh out loud. I'd better start learning my lines!

### FreeMIS Part 1

Hereafter follows the first installment of the long and winding tale of how a maths and computing teacher came to be the developer of a web based open source school management information system called FreeMIS . It began when I arrived at North Berwick High School, and took on a whole school IT role. The school needed a report writing solution, so I made one, using the most readily available tool in school - Filemaker Pro. I didn't know much about databases, and taught myself as I went along. This solution caught the attention of East Lothian Council, and I then spent some time on a working group that put together a solution for reporting and target setting. This was based on my previous work, and Dave Rawson did the target setting side. This solution was picked up by most of the high schools in East Lothian. I soon realised, though, that maintaining 6 different versions of a Filemaker Pro database and trying to apply upgrades to them was a complete nightmare. I needed an so

### Linux eye candy

Here are some snapshots from my home desktop, running Ubuntu 6.06 with Compiz doing the fancy desktop stuff Whilst Windows drones are waiting expectantly for Vista, those of us running Linux have already got eye candy galore on our desktops. With XGL and Compiz, you get wobbly windows, variable translucency of windows, peel-back windows, a 3D cube with your desktops (oh - I forgot, Windows user don't have multiple desktops) and Mac style window selection.

### And some days I don't

I just spent an annoying 20 minutes trying to work out how to make "pretty URLs" work on this blog. It turns out that I had a line saying "AllowOverride None" that had to be changed to read "AllowOverride All". This little doozie was in /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/default - obvious really! If any of the above made any sense to you then I welcome you as a fellow member of the geek community. It actually made perfect sense to me, but I feel a bit guilty about admitting it. Like the time that I pressed "esc w q" in an attempt to save an MSWord document. Sad....very sad.

### Some days I love software

I'm a Linux user. There - I've just come out and said it. I feel so much better now it's out in the open. Seriously, I use Ubuntu almost exclusively outside school, and today I was replying to an email from someone who was trying to set up FreeMIS . I had meant to attach an SQL file, which I referred to in the email, but forgot to. When I clicked on send, Kontact (the KDE email client) popped up a warning, saying that I had mentioned an attachment in my message but hadn't attached anything - did I want to do so? How cool is that?

### Why "Jonesieblog"?

When I first arrived on the Internet back in the '90s, it turned out that several Robert Joneses had got here before me. I needed a username for HoTMaiL, as it was known in the days before it belonged to Bill, and the best I could come up with in a hurry was "jonesieboy". Over the years I have registered on dozens of sites as "jonesieboy", and set up "jonesieboy" email accounts on many domains. I'm not entirely happy with "jonesieboy" as a moniker - it certainly lacks gravitas, and seems less and less appropriate as my 40th birthday disappears into the mists of time - but I'm kind of stuck with it now. It seems only natural that Jonesieboy should have a jonesieblog! By the way - don't bother sending emails to the Hotmail account. I only use it when I need to expose an email address on the Internet. It receives hundreds of spam messages per day, and I only look at it in once in a while to prevent it from being deactivated by Mi

### The actor's life for me

I just got back in from a "reading" for this autumn's drama circle play. A "reading" is, in case you don't know, the meeting where the would-be actors read out bits of the play, and the director decides who is going to play which role. We are doing "Over My Dead Body" - a very funny black comedy. I'm playing Mark, the somewhat bemused, hapless son-in-law of the main character. For a few anxious minutes I thought that I was going to be asked to play the 69 year old widower. This means rehearsals every Monday and Thursday evening for the next ten weeks. Ho hum - no pain no gain!

### Branching out

I've been blogging at the East Lothian Council Exc-el site for a few months now, and decided it was time to set up a proper blog for myself. So here I am! I expect to be blogging mainly about stuff.