Keeping your blog

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/its/elab/services/webtools/blogs/faqs/general/exblogs/

There is an FAQ here that lets you know what to do when you graduate so that you can keep your blog. In case anyone hasn't found this page yet:



When you graduate or leave the University your blog will not just be deleted. We intend to keep content up for as long as we can as we believe blogs are a great online resource.

However, once you leave the University you will no longer be able to sign in. You have 4 options:

  1. Join the Warwick Graduates' Association (http://www.wgaalumni.co.uk) and sign up for their web site. Once you can sign in on their web site you will be able to sign in to Warwick Blogs as well. Once you can do that, email us at blogs@warwick.ac.uk and tell us the following information:
    • Your blog address (eg. http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/joebloggs
    • Your old IT Services user code
    • Your new WGA website user code (most likely an email address)
  2. Leave your blog online for everyone to read, but we'll make it inactive so that it can't receive comments. You don't need to do anything for this to happen; we will detect when you leave the University and automatically put your blog into this mode.
  3. You can export your blog using the export function in the blog admin menu so that you can take your content with you.
  4. You can choose to have your blog deleted in which case you need to contact us and tell us at blogs@warwick.ac.uk.

If your graduation is more than 8 weeks after finishing your course, you will need to specifically tell the WGA that you want to be able to sign in and access their web site as usually this doesn't happen until your graduation.

Your Warwick account expires 8 weeks after your course ends and you'll then need to register with the WGA web site and follow the instructions above to get access to your Warwick Blog.


Two years

Warwick Blogs has now been running for two years, raising the interesting question of how usage in its second year compared with usage in its first year. The numbers look like this:–

  04/5 05/6
Blogs created 2,393 1,163
Blog entries 32,020 29,492
Authors 2,127 1,747
Comments 78,141 65,242
Commenters 1,804 1,530
Images 44,106 41,821

The fact that fewer blogs were created in the second year than in the first is unsurprising; in the first year, nobody had a blog, but in the second year many of the people who wanted a blog had already acquired one. The other numbers are all down slightly, but two data points don't make a trend, so it remains to be seen whether the third year demonstrates that usage is really in gentle decline, or whether it's just random noise from one year to the next.

Entry permissions

Follow-up to New groups system from Blogbuilder news

As an extension to the way that webgroups are now integrated into Warwick Blogs, there has been a slight way to the way permissions work when you are creating an entry. You can now search for specific groups when creating an entry by clicking "Find a Group", which allows you to find students for a particular module or course on–the–fly.

Along with this, in the "Manage your Groups" page on your blogs Admin page, you can add groups to this also, so you can search for groups as well as users. These groups update automatically, so the people who are on the module "ES425" now are not the same who will be on it next year, so bear that in mind when creating the entry.

Update: We've also fixed a problem with posting special characters into comments with our nice new slide down AJAX comments


Request for help

We've been approached by somebody writing a dissertation about blogging who's looking for students willing to talk about their academic or reflective use of blogs. He says:–


I am looking for students use blogs as part of their coursework and who are willing to participate in a study on blogging. This study is part of my dissertation for a masters degree with the Open University. My aims are to:

  • Examine blogs for evidence of reflection and communication.
  • Measure learning style using a brief questionnaire
  • Measure reflection using a brief questionnaire

The questionnaires can be completed remotely. I will also ask a few questions about blogging habits and about the context and aims of the blogging activity. All results will be anonymised and no blogs quoted without permission.

I work as an educational technologist in University College Dublin and am writing a masters dissertation on blogs as a learning tool with the Open University.

Niall Watts
Educational Technology Officer
UCD Audio Visual Centre
University College Dublin
Dublin 4
Ireland

T. + 353–1–716 7035
E. niall.watts@ucd.ie
Blog: link

If you'd be interested in helping Niall then please contact him directly.


New groups system

A new small release of Blogbuilder was released last night, with a few very minor bugfixes (apologies to anyone who hasn't been able to make game reviews for a while), and a transference to a new system for organising groups.

Unfortunately, as a result of this, any favourites that you have for groups before (such as the module IB104, Philosophy 4th Years) will have been removed and you will have to re–subscribe to these groups. You can do this by:

  1. Going to the Blog Directory
  2. If the Group that you want is not on that page, click on Departments on the left
  3. You can then see a list of departments. If you are looking for an individual module, you can click the link at the top and search for it by typing it in the field

Once you are at a group page, you can click on the heart icon next to the title to add it to your Favourites.


Major update

Sidebar Preview

A new version of BlogBuilder has been released today with some small fixes, and two large new features:

Customisable Sidebars

Something which we've been working on for a while, and that some people have asked for, is the ability to customise the aspects of the sidebar on your blog. By going to the "Admin" area of your blog and then clicking on "Sidebar", you can now re–order, remove and add sidebar items to your blog.

There are two ways to add sidebar items to your blog: either from a remote feed (RSS or Atom), or from a plain text (Textile or HTML). We've also implemented a number of wizards that can help you to add your Flickr photos, del.icio.us links or a feed from Warwick Podcasts directly to your sidebar easily.

At the moment, when you display sidebar items, they can either be an image feed, a podcast feed or a normal text feed. If there are any other types that you'd wish us to implement, let us know.

For more information on what you can do with your sidebar, you can read the Frequently Asked Questions.

In–page Comments

The popup comments windows have now been replaced with an Ajax drop–down that opens when the link is clicked and can be closed again. When you access comments from one of these windows, you can also post comments without leaving the current browser page.

Other Minor Fixes

There have been a couple of other minor fixes, specifically with Chinese characters being previewed in entries and some minor CSS fixes, as well as fixes with the help popups and gallery captions

If you have any problems with the fixes, or any features in BlogBuilder, as always you can report it by commenting on this entry or by posting on the Blog Feedback forum.


New version

A new version of BlogBuilder has been released today, with a few improvements and minor fixes:

Fixes
  • My Comments should now sort comments and display results exactly as expected
  • The new "Preview" pane should act properly when saving as a draft afterwards
Improvements
  • If you have statistics turned on on your "About me" page, you'll be able to see the number of comments posted, as well as a list of who has you on their favourites.
  • RSS feeds have been slightly improved
  • The front page colours are now slightly more readable than before

As always, if you spot any problems or issues, feel free to comment here or on the Blogs Feedback Forum (you may need to be signed in to read the forum)


Lightbox 2.0

Writing about web page http://www.huddletogether.com/projects/lightbox2/

We've just updated to Lightbox 2.0

What this means is that we have even nicer galleries now. When you click on an image in a gallery and it pops up, it'll give you next/previous buttons to easily navigate through the gallery and provide a quick link to the full sized image.

Enjoy.


Downtime tonight

Some of you may have noticed that blogs was largely unavailable, or at least very slow, from about 10:30 pm this evening. We're having problems caused by the database that provides information on academic groups (such as which department you're in, or which modules you're taking) running very slowly at the moment.

To prevent this system from taking the whole of blogs down, as it was doing, we've temporarily disabled groups–related functionality. This may break some pages, particularly if you've subscribed to an entire module's or department's blogs in your favourites. The blog directory will also not work at the moment. However, the majority of pages should still work fine.

We should have a better solution in place tomorrow, once the maintainers of the academic groups database are back in and able to sort it out. Apologies for the inconvienience in the short term.


BlogBuilder update

It's been a little while since our last update, but here is one a few people should appreciate, even if it is a bit late.

There has been a quite long standing bug that meant editing entries that were trackbacks blew up. The code for creating and editing entries was long overdue for an overhaul…and now it's had it.

Another advantage now is that the edit screen is now stateless, meaning that you are less likely to lose your data and should generally be able to recover from (a hopefully rare) an error by pressing the back button.

The preview has now changed too. It will now popup a new window and will show you your entry all styled up in your blog style. This also makes creating/previewing a bit quicker and hopefully more reliable.

We've also done a bit of work to improve the validation of the HTML that we use throughout BlogBuilder. Most people won't notice this, but it's there (although not yet perfect).

As usual, please let us know if you find any problems with these changes by commenting here and we'll do our best to fix any problems as soon as we can.


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