Blogging students

What’s my plan of action? Hummm i'm faced with 3 different choices.

Ideally there would be a blogging server in college which students could use without too much help. So I could try and convince miles that this would be a good idea and that this would be a test run for next year maybe?
Problems I foresee, is the college libal for anything put on the blog? According to the blog layer I met a while back the answer is no but its not been proven in court yet.

2nd option is to set them up on my own server at home. This would be trival to do, but should I is more the question? hey would I be liable? Would I have to guarantee some level of quality. See what would happen if my line goes down or server needs restarting? Would they expect 24/7 service?
Plus would 12 students blogs effect my bandwidth?

Last option, would be to use a 3rd party blogging service like, livejournal, etc. Which would all be down to the students to maintain and administrate.
I would need to reckonmend one or more of the services to make sure I could aggergate the content into a class news feed. Maybe flock or cocoon for logic.
Anyway this 3rd option does make things a lot easier but I would need to also read the end user policy/agreement to make sure everythings clean.

This year the group is very diverse and a blog is a sure starting point for all of them. It will be interesting if it will bring them together as they all seem very disjointed with one another at the moment, which is good as there seems to be very few deers.

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Bluetooth Smart Car

Saw this a while back, Orange, Smart Launch Bluetooth car. Orange and Smart have added Bluetooth to the new range of smart cars. Nothing amazing, just interesting that customers will get a 6month contract to Orange free with a T610.
If I had the choice in a car, I would get a smart car not because of this but there the best for fuel and space generally. The extra bonus is just that.

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Orange’s SPV2

Orange SPV E200

Ok its coming up to a few months since my contract ended for my mobile phone. My Ericsson T68 is doing odd things when it comes to Bluetooth and GPRS. I want to change but I would like a phone with a built in camera, as I'm using it more and more for shots.

So I saw Orange are finally bring out the SPV2. Its the first Microsoft smartphone which has built in Bluetooth and a camera, all packed into the same size package as a SPV, which makes me very happy.

I always liked the orginal SPV, but the lack of Bluetooth wrote it off for me. There have been a few other Microsoft Smartphone's which are good but none of them have had bluetooth to date. I'm also hoping Orange will do what they did with the Orginal SPV, sell it very cheap on a new contract. I remember when it was released it sold for about 139 pounds then was quickly dropped to 99 pounds then 79 pounds. I think just before Christmas when I go on holiday I will get a SPV2 at a decent enough price.

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Xml for presentations

For ages now, i've been looking at better more effective ways of creating presentation material without manually doing pages in adobe illustrator or using microsoft powerpoint. See what I usually do is create a template in illustrator then edit that for each page before saving each one as a acrobat pdf file. Then I put them together using adobe acrobat and tag the whole thing for internet and presentation use.
And its been ok up to now. But now I want to start doing all presentations in xml format no matter what they may be, for example the same xml format for lectures, talks, teaching, etc.

I started looking around and decided that open office's presenter format (impress) was as close as I was going to get to useable and open. Its written into a soup xml file. So using the new xml file filter. I can write a xsl to turn it into anything I like. But lets not forget openoffice already lets you write to many formats including the dreaded flash and powerpoint formats.

But saying all that, I found SlideML today. And it does have the xsl to turn slideml into css xhtml and plain html. They seem interested in turning it into pdf, svg and docbook slides. So that would save me a lot of work.

At this moment I'm gonna stay with open office's impress because its simple and works right now, but I'll keep an eye on Slideml for the future.

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RDF/Topic Maps and reification

Saw this while browsing around the oscom site RDF/Topic Maps and reification

On that same note, I've also been looking around the extreme markup conference site and wishing I could afford to go to these kind of events. Reading the abstract from this years keynote – William Kent. Data and Reality, really sends the shivers up my spine. Kent says: “Many texts and reference works are available to keep you on the leading edge of data processing technology. That's not what this book is about. This book addresses timeless questions about how we as human beings perceive and process information about the world we operate in, and how we struggle to impose that view on our data processing machines. Wow, what a keynote that would have been.

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Derren Brown Play – Russian Roulette live

Excellent entertainment, nicely done Channel 4.

On 5 October at 9pm, Derren Brown will attempt not to shoot himself in the head,
live on Channel 4.

Filmed in a secret location, one person selected from the thousands who applied will load a real handgun with one bullet and then hand it to Derren. Using a series of psychological tests, Derren will then determine which chamber contains the bullet, put the gun to his head, and fire until he comes to the live chamber.

“Most of the stuff I do I reckon has a 90 per cent success rate,” says Derren. See if the odds are in his favour on 5 October, at 9pm on Channel 4.

The media are really making a meal of the whole event now. But the general reaction is that it was all a big trick.

Unfortually because the whole event went over by 5mins, I only captured till 22:00 and missed the last 5mins which was the important part. So yeah only up to the point when the deer and derren are talking and loading the gun. Hoping someone posts it online soon, as I was going to do.

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Blog Change Bot

Blog Change Bot (blogchangebot on AIM) is a blog monitoring service which updates you via AOL Instant Messanger when a blog you are interested is updated. Subscribe via AIM or iChat to be automatically notified when the blog is updated.

So basicly its a another bloglines type service which also accepts opml (good stuff). But notifies the person over instant messager. I havent yet tried it out beyond subscribing to the blogchangebot on AIM. But I may send it a subset of my rather large opml file to try it out.

I'm wondering two things to myself, is there anyway to grab the jabber/xmpp message using a cocoon pipeline? And when will mark release a 1.0 version of blojsim? I'm gonna email mark some time and ask for advice on getting blojsim working in blojsom2. Thanks for the link about Atom API Mark

Oh and saw this the Instant Gratification. Which instant messages you when some visits your blog. Sad or Tragic? which one is up to you.

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calender for london events

Been thinking about this once again, and reality has started to shows its face again.

First up, I think the grabbing of louise ferguson's events page, would be too much work for small gain. So until she changes the format of the page so the content is seprated from the style there is little I can do. Its just too messy and theres too much inconsistency for me to write a xsl to transform the page into useable content.

I have however been thinking of other ways of doing what louise has done.
I first thought of creating a blog for events. Sounds perfect right? You know you have the calendar already there, the ability to search via category's, etc, etc. But there was a major problem which came up when I started thinking deeper. When you write a blog that is the date of the blog, just like this one is actually being written at 2am in the morning on Sunday 5th October. But if you wanted to blog a event, the event would have had to have happened. Which is no good because no one would then know about it till the day! Not much good you would say.
So i need to be able to change the actual date of the blog to certain specified date. Sounds easy enough, and maybe it is but not without some serious hacksawing of a blog server. The other way would be to touch the blog on the filesystem. But who would want to do that and who would allow people from outside to do such a thing. The last option I thought about was using the metablog mechanism. See usually theres a small amount of meta posted hence

#Thu Aug 21 13:44:45 BST 2003

Now if I could work out how to add – blog-event-date=20031027 which obvioulsy means 27th October 2003 and get the blog server to read that as the post date. We would be cooking!

So even thought the last idea would be fantastic, I'm forced to think about another solution because I want to start putting events up for my students soon. And of course for those interested in whats on in London.

So I've been looking at the ical format from two points of view.
I'm using Mozilia's Calendar and exporting the events as ical rdf and xml then putting them on my webdav server. The other view point i'm looking at it from is the ical spec. which is large and quite scarey in some parts, but its for the non xml version which is a problem but gives me a good idea of names and whats possible. Heres a example of a event i'm going to in 2 weeks time.
The completely xml version and The rdf xml version. So whats my next step, well I can easily write a pipeline in cocoon which will pick up all ical's in that directory and using xsl pull out the title and arrange them by there event date. so you would agree that is a good start for now. If i get time tomorrow I'll do it, but I know I got a few other tasks to do before this.

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Trackbacks [0] 1.1 final 1.1 can be downloaded now.

I love the new XML file filter settings and cant wait to try it out. Maybe write one for some of the xml schemas I use. Now if it would only save back into a format of choice. Oh my after one look at my installed version, I quickly realised the xml file filter does support export as well as import. And the biggest thing is that its all done using XSL. Yeah I love open source technology.

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Powerpoint is evil?

I wrote this blog a while back in August. It included a link to edward tuffe's arcticle about why powerpoint was evil. But recently Dave has been emailing comments around to me and Miles. I decided to sit this one out, but some very interesting comments and ideas have been bounced around.

Emailed from Miles

I've found myself wondering what it is exactly that makes PPT evil.
Certainly it is dangerous: a graphic communications tool in the hands
of people poorly trained in graphical or graphically assisted
communication is a bad thing, and, as Tufte points out, hierarchical
outlines can be used to lend a spurious authority to banal or
misleading statements (and imply non-existent chains of inference and
conclusion). But this, I think, is not enough to make PPT truly evil.
For a long time I wondered what I was missing, until I came across this:

Leverage your existing presentations so you don�t have to start from
scratch. You can import just about any file type into Keynote -
including PowerPoint, PDF and AppleWorks presentations - and then
enhance with themes. You can paste data from Excel documents into your
Keynote charts and tables. Keynote lets you export presentations to
PowerPoint, QuickTime or PDF.

here: ... and I realised that Chomsky had
answered the question over a generation ago.

PPT, surely, has as its antecedents the blackboard, the flip chart and
the ohp. Even used amateurishly, all of these media are effectively
deployed in communication. Thinking back to my schooldays, I was always
worried about teachers who flourished ohps rather than wrote on the
board (for some obscure reason), but they never struck the terror into
me that a session of PPTs can. Why is this? And why did ohps make me
more nervous than blackboards?

In the 1970s Chomsky noted that television was destroying political
discourse. He realised that, in fact, discourse was stopping, as
television, which demanded immediacy, and is not well suited to the
delivery of lectures, encouraged a style of discourse now known as the
"soundbite". At first, "soundbites" were the distillation of more
complex arguments - and this was the point of Chomsky's objection: that
complex political debate was being "dumbed down" into a soundbite for
television's consumption. This was television's doing (as McLuhan
spotted, the medium is the message), but the political classes soon got
with the medium, and, rather than "dumb down" the argument to get to
the soundbite, dropped the argument entirely, and produced just the
soundbite. By the 1980s, politics had become merely soundbite packaging
(consider, since when did "tough on crime, tough on the causes of
crime" actually substitute for a policy on criminal justice?). To be
sure, politics has always been about sloganising - wrapping a complex
idea into a memorable phrase ("votes for women", "peace in our time",
"liberty, equality, fraternity"), but, behind the slogans there used to
be complex political ideas. Nowadays, political parties don't have
policies as such, they craft soundbites to appeal to target swing voter
groups. The party that does this best gets elected. There are no longer
any big ideas in politics not because all the big battles have been
won, but because there are no big ideas anymore.

PPT has achieved the same result for the presentation of complex

In the past, the notes on the blackboard represented a summation. The
teacher wasn't writing all there was to know on the subject - that
existed in books, papers, pictures, documents, films, archives, &c. The
teacher was merely presenting a synthetic overview of the corpus
relevant to the lesson at hand. The teacher was able to do this (if
they were a good teacher) because they had some mastery of that corpus.
The notes on the board were ephemeral, epiphenomena of the narrative
the teacher's master caused him/her to weave around the source
material. This is why I got nervous about ohps (on reflection). Ohps
were more difficult to produce, and were produced in advance of the
lesson. The teacher became preoccupied with the presentation of the
ohps - making sure they were laid out clearly, and were legible from
the back of the class (as they would be unable to effect significant
changes on the fly). They would have to prejudge very accurately the
length of their talk, and the level of engagement of their audience.
They would, in short, have come to see the production of the ohps as
the end in itself, rather than the summative mastery of the subject

PPTs, too, has become an end in itself. PPTs don't summarise more
complex corpora, they are the sole embodiment of a piece of thinking,
information or ideas. The are lavishly prepared: my anecdotal
impression is that for every hour a PPT is worked on, 40 minutes are on
looknfeel, and 20 minutes are on content. As more and more visual tools
are loaded into presentation software, more and more time is spent on
the looknfeel. This is what makes PPT evil: it is the primary medium
for the expression of ideas in business, and, increasingly, education.
PPT is no longer an ephemeral medium, but a medium of record - so what
we record is executive summaries and bullet-points. Not only are
complex ideas no longer explored (if they won't fit on a slide, there's
no place for them), but people are becoming increasingly ignorant of
complex ideas - all thought has become slogans.

Is there hope? Very little, I fear. But I say this - delete your PPT
slides after presenting them. Promise yourself that you will always
treat them as ephemeral, that your primary sources will be elsewhere,
in greater depth, and with more detail, and you may yet be saved.

I keep meaning to reply to Miles but always seem to run out of bus time when writing my email on the ipaq into work. Miles raises some interesting ideas through out the email message. Kinda of hits the core of why presentations are enherently bad, just like the soundbite and slogans. How do you explain to a audience complex ideas in a set of bullet points and a 45mins talk?
Just reflecting personally, I tend to write my presentations in tagged pdf format and include lots of information which I dont read in the presentation. So when the audience gets a copy or requests a copy it contains lots more than I explained. But is this enough I ask?

Oh by the way heres the New york times arcticle which started the debate off again after wired. Oh and dave's copy on his blog, but he has no comments so people been emailing instead.

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Matrix 3 – Revolutions trailer

The trailer is out there.
Downloaded the TGF version from alt.binaries.multimedia tonight, sick quality, looked like a hi quality dvd on my xbox.

Heres the nfo which came with it. If you can find it download it because its actually better quality than the version you get from the matrix site plus its damm 5.1 digital surround sound. I love Dolby Digital…Humm

TGF Proudly Presents

               Movie: Matrix Revolutions
               Title: Theatrical Trailer
              Format: WMV9 VCM + AC3 DD 5.1 wrapped in AVI
   Format Resolution: 1280x720p FILM Progressive
       Video Bitrate: 6.4 Mbit/sec Average
                      20.0 Mbit/burst 2-pass VBR
       Audio Bitrate: Remastered 224 kbps AC3 DD 2.0
                Size: 127,406,080 bytes	(127.4MB)
        Release Date: 29/09/2003


        Quite simply, I'm releasing this
        version of the theatrical trailer
       for HTPC users lucky enough to have
       DLP PJ's which are 1280x720 native
        or higher. Play this on your 100"
       screen and let me know how good it
             makes your system look.

   Or heck. Anyone with an HTPC hooked up to
             an HDTV set or monitor.

                  Release Notes

       This requires WM9 Video Codec and a
     DirectShow AC3 filter (e.g. ac3filter).
          ZoomPlayer is recommended for
     playback but WMP 6.4 or WMP9 will work.

         P4 2.4 GHz class or higher with
      DXVA AGP 4X/8X Video card recommended
                  for playback.

                   Group News


   I'm not a group. I'm an independent releaser.
  I strive for quality over speed above anything
     else. It's all about pushing technology
              and the envelope.


   People have yearn for more true HDTV content.
        WMV9 and XviD @ HDTV resolutions.
            Flames about choosing an
    M$ codec will be sent straight to /dev/null.


      My DVD5's are my masterpiece. Carefully
    mastered from TRUE HDTV raw MPEG-2 sources
   giving you studio quality DVD releases. Who
    else can claim untouched AC3 streams, and
   beautifully remastered HDTV to DVD content.

Looking forward to seeing Matrix 3 in Berlin, Germany now. Hoping to see it on a really large screen maybe imax?

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Office 2003 will ‘protect Microsoft’s monopoly’

Interesting news story about a internal document from Sun. Laurie Wong argue's that Microsoft Office 2003's document rights management system will turn the office market into a monopoly. I kinda of agree, that the whole office 2003 is open message is very mixed but you need to buy into the whole microsoft suite to take advantage of there DRM. So its not a big deal i feel, but i take the point about using PGP. I would ideally say DRM should be seperate from the program. Office 2003 surely does take us into dangerious teritory.

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