All entries for October 2004

October 28, 2004

My comments/comment tracking

Just about to start work on the "My comments" feature which people have been after for a while.

Basically this is going to be a screen where you can keep track of everywhere that you've commented and it'll highlight entries where there have been comments since your last comment.

This will initially be a private screen just available to the user (any user…even if you don't have a blog yourself) but there will eventually be an option to make some of that info available on your own blog so that people can see where you've commented if you so wish.

The second stage to this is the feature where you can say that you want to keep an eye on an entry and get emails when there are new comments. Advantage of this is that it will help you keep track of places where you are interested in the comments, but don't actually want to comment yourself.


October 26, 2004

Hibernate built in paging support

Didn't realise this until just now, but Hibernate has built in paging support.

Query query = sess.createQuery(queryStr);
query.setMaxResults(10);
query.setFirstResult(20);
return query.list();

This handy little snippet will automagically return 10 objects, starting at object 20. And of course, chances are that hibernate has actually got all the objects you want in memory anyway, so it'll probably never even touch the database. Lovely.

In case anyone wondered, this means that there'll soon be "Older entries" and "Newer entries" links at the bottom of pages listing lots of entries.


October 19, 2004

Some Warwick Blogs statistics

Took a look at some stats from Blogbuilder today and tried to generate up some graphs showing how we are progressing. Bearing in mind that the graphs are crap (I hate Excel), you should be able to get an idea of progress.

All the graphs show data from the 10th September 2004 to the 18th October 2004. Roughly 2 weeks before the start of term and 3/4 weeks into term.

This is really the most important graph. What really counts is the number of entries we are getting. Yes, it is nice to have lots of blogs registered, but if only 1 in 100 people are blogging…
I think it is heading in generally the right direction, but the real test is how it looks around Xmas.

The number of comments is not only a good indicator of how many entries you have, but also how many people are reading and taking an interest in all those entries. Again, it is pretty good, on average there is a comment on every entry. But there are lots of entries with 10 or more comments and lots of entries with no comments. It would be interesting to look at how many people keep blogging, even if they have no comments…

It is good to note that there is still a steady influx of new blogs even though we are quite a way into term now. We hit 1500 blogs today and are still getting 30/40 new blogs per day.

Unfortunately the work to get Blogbuilder to generate these kinds of stats automatically is rather a long way down the priority list right now.


October 15, 2004

BlogBuilder e–learning requirements

Had a good meeting with the ELA's on Wednesday. They all got together to gang up on me and get me to build some of their e-learning requirements for blogbuilder.

So, what did we talk about?

  • Default permissions for categories
  • Automatically creating categories in peoples blogs
  • Making blog prompts send confirmation emails
  • Making people more aware of what creating a public entry really means
  • Squeezing people into blog collections, even if they are not strictly in that department, perhaps using a secondary department
  • Customising the home page

Those were the main topics, however, I forced them to agree to a top 3 things they wanted:

  1. Changing the wording on the "create entry" link on the drop down. There could be two options now, one that says University only entry and one which is World viewable entry The permissions that this would create are obvious, and that is the point. The wording more strongly suggests the implications of different kinds of permissions. There could well be a tooltip explaining the implications of fully public entries even further.
  2. Blog prompts should send confirmation emails to the blog owners hopefully this will mean better responses to blog prompts. The email will include all the text of the prompt and also a very clear link that you can click that will create an entry linked to the prompt.
  3. Module categories Although we are not sure how it would work just now, we agreed the need to create categories in peoples blogs based on what modules they are doing. However, it would not work to just show a category for all modules because there would be too many. Some kind of screen where students get to choose which modules they want to show categories for would be good.

October 14, 2004

Things you overhear in queues

So, I was standing in a queue in the Union awaiting my lovely fish and chips from Battered yesterday and what did I overhear?

Fresher#1
Why would anyone eat a chip batch?

Fresher#2
What is a chip batch anyway?

Fresher#3
It's a chip butty, guess they call it a batch here

Fresher#1
I mean, I would never eat one, who would eat potato inside potato?

Fresher#2
Ermmm

Fresher#3
Ermmmm

Me
Snigger snigger

Fresher#1
What's the point in having some potato inside some more potato like that?

Fresher#2
Ermmm

Fresher#3
Ermmmm

Me
Snigger snigger

This may seem a little harsh, but surely we should expect a Warwick student to know that bread does not equal potato! Surely?! I'm hoping she was drunk :) We were in the union after all

Footnote: Yes I know you can make bread from potato...but I don't think this is where the coversation was going


October 11, 2004

Mourning Fat Bob and Curious George

Writing about Goldfish–sitting from 1129 - Ali's () blog

Reading Alison's entry about goldfish has prompted me to come to terms with my recent losses.

Our first goldfish, Fat Bob died a few weeks ago whilst we were away on holiday. Curious George it seems, at all the food and starved the previously quite rotund Bob to death :(

Now, just a few weeks later, we have managed to kill George as well. I don't know if it was guilt, or just lonlieness that finally took George to meet his maker…either way, we are now fishless :(

To think we are meant to be looking after one of my parents' dogs next month!


My first run

So, did my first run along the route from home to work on Friday after work. I didn't actually run from work to home, but did do at least the equivalent distance.

I did 3/4 of the way to work and back home again, totaling 3.5 miles in 28 minutes (8 minutes/mile pace). That wasn't too bad for my first go.

I have to say though…running is really boring! Give me footy any day!


October 10, 2004

Labeling who is in a photo

The gallery functionality still has a fair bit of work to do on it, and once some of the more basic features are finished/tweaked, there could be some really cool stuff we could do.

Because a lot of the photos that people are uploading are going to be of other people at Warwick and places/events around Warwick. Wouldn't it be nice if we could mark up photos with a bit more metadata?

It is usually quite difficult to get people to put even a title or description against a photo, but if we make it fun and easy, it might be worth a go.

An example application might be if you could put in a list of names of people in a photo, in theory you could then really easily search the database, across multiple blogs and galleries and find all photos that featured yourself or a friend. This has been done before a fair bit and can be seen in action here, here and here

That last one is a neat one, showing how you can do a photo six-degrees type thing. That links shows links from Libby Miller (a researcher in Bristol) to Frank Sinatra.

If lots of people were uploading photos and putting names and places against them, you could search for photos of you and your best friend at Top Banana for instance. Even though you never knew the photo was taken (you were too drunk to notice), you may well come across a great photo.

I guess a question I have to ask is…will people abuse it? Unfortunately in the last couple of weeks, we have seen a handful of people try to do some rather silly things with Warwick Blogs. Would people upload photos of their pet snake and label it as being their personal tutor? How could that be prevented?

Of course, if you really want a neat gallery system, check out Flickr, they have some really cool stuff.

Who knows if we'll get a chance to try this out (there are a hell of a lot of features way higher on the priority list than this), but if we did, I think it could be a lot of fun.


Lenny Henry at the Warwick Arts Centre

Writing about web page http://www.lennyhenry.com/home/wheres_len.asp?pID=4

So, after 4 months of waiting (having bought the tickets in June) to see Lenny Henry at the Warwick Arts Centre, Friday was the day.

I've never been a huge fan of Lenny, but whenever I saw him on the TV, I liked what I saw and thought he was pretty good. So, I grabbed a couple of tickets a few months ago and thought I'd give it a go.

To get to the point, I was disappointed. The show was part of a new'ish tour with relatively new material and a slightly strange format of trying to tell a story, make us laugh and have a few political digs whilst he was at it.

I'm not saying he just wasn't at all funny, he was…at times I was laughing my arse off. Unfortunately it just wasn't often enough. Whereas Bill Bailey Dave Gorman and Ricky Gervais really kept you laughing almost non-stop, I think Lenny was trying to make you think a bit too much.


October 06, 2004

Brand new supply of shiney yellow clamps!

So, looks like security have got themselves a bulk shipment of new wheel clamps :(

Finding a parking space so far this term has been truely horrible. I don't know if students are getting richer and more people are driving, or if it is just the effect of the shift towards westwood with Uni House (aka Warwick Castle).

Today the security suddenly decided to clamp everyone, and I mean almost everyone. I saw something like a dozen clamped cars over at westwood today. Kinda feel sorry for them, security have let them get away with it for the last 2 weeks, but suddenly without warning just slap 20 fines on everyone. A bit harsh :(

So, we all going to be getting the bus or riding bikes to work now? Doubt it. Of course, Chris doesn't mind


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