Lay off Jimmy Wales

Am getting annoyed with all this shit flying around about Jimmy Wales.

I met him, allbeit briefly, at an education.au event last year – heard him speak and had the chance to chat to him really briefly.

To be honest, I was all prepared to not like him… to find him arrogant (especially as Education is concerned – having got teh gist of a few things he’d said before) or to have not much interesting to say, or to just be on an aloof junket. So I went into it with a pretty bad attitude.

I know this isn’t very cool of me, but that’s honestly how I felt going into it.

However, I came out of it no less that utterly impressed.

He’s an incredibly smart,  interesting and genuine individual. He talked openly and with a great deal of time and respect for his audience and impressed me more than – and this is no small thing – any conference presenter ever has. He rocks out.

Now, everyone has their share of personal strife and difficulties – I’m no exception by a long shot on that one – and anyone with his profile or dealings is going to be without enemies or the occasional thing that might seem questionable about what they do professionally.

He deserves a lot more respect and lot less crap (especially the highly likely utterly incorrect crap) thrown at him.

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with criticism, but a lot of publications are taking the piss, and that’s not on.

A little bit more monitor

OK, so in addition to SharpReader (thanks Sue) here’s another heap of ways you can keep an eye on / facilitate other people keeping and eye on your servers & sites.

Pingdom – Rocks the house… incredibly reliable (unless you’re using caching :/) so point it at something dynamic and give it your server tech’s mobile phone number :) – or just email if you’re feeling slightly less evil. Highly recommended!

Tweetscan and/or Terraminds – If Pingdom does’t tell you about it then your users certainly will. Real human testing! Put the feeds from these in SharpReader and get it to check them every 15 minutes (or whenever you compulsively click it)

Gmail – When your servers are down, so is your email :/ Don’t look so professional there then do you…. don’t, whatever you do put your server based email account into Pingdom for example (duh :)

Forums – More after the fact issues as they usually get hit by the initial issues, but still to be watched darn close, although preferably with a manual feedreader (like SR) as finding out about stuff 2-6 hours after it’s happening SUCKS.

After the fact:

Get your server techs to configure a WHM load review on each server to be emailed to you every day – so you can look back on spikes and alike and pull up patterns between days. Very useful also in the it doesn’t let you forget the issues you had that afternoon!

Google blog search updates, talk to people once in a while and remember, it’s never ever going to be just fine so don’t just back up your HDs but also yourself – at all times!

Edmodo – let battle commence :)

Maybe I’m just old fashioned – or slack – but I’ve never got the ‘private beta’ model.

It’s just that IMPO you should be able to release something with a level of simplicity that means you can just roll it out in public from day 1.

So usually I just ignore ’em… but how could I with Edmodo (via TechCrunch – new goal for year, get Edublogs on TC :)

Not only because I like the ‘Twitter for Education’ idea – but also because from Jeff’s blog:

“Edmodo is the brain child of Nic Borg (my partner) and I and we envision this company to be the premier provider of free web 2.0 tools (boy I hate that name) for Teachers, Students, Parents, and Schools.”

Hang on, that’s our plan too!

Anyway, if you’re reading this Jeff and want to let me in to have a look / play that’d be ace… I promise not to break anything ;)

Looking for inspiration…

… yet inspiration is hard to find.

So, I’m gonna go all old skool and tell you what books are currently beside me as I tap this out in bed on a Saturday morning.

There’s a biography of Thomas Hardy by Claire Tomalin called ‘Thomas Hardy [duh] The time torn man’ which is unusual as it’s taken a pretty standard slant in the title (stuck between the ages etc.) but then doesn’t actually mention that much.

There’s also ‘A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth which is just getting to it’s exciting part (200 pages to go) which has, bizarrely, stopped me from reading it to help me get to sleep ;)

And there’s… ‘My Booky Wook’ by Russell ‘shagger of the year’ Brand courtesy of my Uncle and Aunty which is actually quite a good read if you’re into utter, startling, honesty.

One of these days I’ll actually finish them!

Will the real Blackboard please step forward

Via Stephen, The Slashdot take on Blackboard’s setup is very informative – particularly this bit (cut down):

 It produces hundreds of megabytes of absolutely useless logs every day.

The built in log archiving utility doesn’t work.

It’s built primarily on Tomcat.

Their support is nearly non-existent

They use incredibly inefficient stored procedures which can bring down an entire system

Read the rest to get an insight into how much Blackboard’s existing clients love them.

Karma, anyone?

Meanwhile, Optus carry on being crap

Sorry Richard, setting my proxy to proxy to cache1.optusnet.com.au port 80 or webproxy01.syd.optusnet.com.au / webproxy02.syd.optusnet.com.au hasn’t helped with my Optus cable internet woes.

Again, come 9:45AM this morning I’ve been locked out of gmail and bizarrely a selection of our servers in the US (not all – like the one this is on).

Update: Actually using webproxy02.syd.optusnet.com.a and port 80 has just started working. But still!

And have I had a response from their support or complaints department – both of whom I’ve now contacted. I don’t think so!

Maybe time to go hit Whirlpool… or maybe not, I can’t reach them :/

Guess who’s 5 today….

Yep, ‘Incorporated Subversion’ (or should I say ‘James Farmer’s Radio Weblog’) was born on this day 5 full years ago.

That’s half a decade, from my 20s to my 30s, and blimey things were different back then.

Funnily enough though, I’m still writing about pretty much exactly the same thing :D

Anyway, to celebrate the event I figures I need to get ‘back into blogging’ for as bit so expect a juicy tidbit (or who knows, maybe more) every day for the next 30 days. You lucky things!

Another big new Edublogs feature – forums

Yeh yeh, I know I bag out forums as the root of all evil in online teaching and learning… but not when they’re used in the right way, and as an element (certainly not the main one) of an environment.

So, as evidence of my balanced and completely non OTT perspective on these things, we gives ya forums for all Edubloggers.

Basically this means that every Edublog can now set up and host forums within their blog – on posts or pages – and I think it’s rather neat.

Sure, there are some improvements we can make to it (and we will!) but doesn’t this add another rather decent element for poeple wanting to use their blog to manage an online learning experience…

Here’s a 3 minute ‘tute of how it works…

Setting up an Edublogs forum

Oh, and we’ve made Edublogs.org open to students as well as teachers now… so new accounts on uniblogs, learnerblogs and eslblogs have been disabled (but the sites themselves will remain live indefinitely). Another day, another biggie at Edublogs!

Serious Optus internet connections issue

OK, am getting annoyed now.

Over the last few weeks (from Melbourne on Optus Cable on their maximum plan) we’ve had frequent dropouts on some sites overseas for up to several hours at a time – this isn’t an issue at my end, or at the servers end (I know because we’ve been testing connection to the Edublogs cluster) but a series of problems with routers (or whatever) – the last one being in Milton.

I’d provide more detailed info but I CAN’T right now because now I’m kicked off gmail… grrr… which makes it impossible for me to run my business.

Naturally I’ve contacted Optus a couple of times but predictably have had NOTHING in response.

Hopefully somebody will pick this up and let us know what’s going on… ‘cos at the moment I’m edging closer to iinet every day.

OK, back now, here’s what’s happening in more detail:

C:\Documents and Settings\b>tracert edublogs.org

Tracing route to edublogs.org [72.34.61.230]
over a maximum of 30 hops:

1 <1 ms <1 ms <1 ms 192.168.0.1
2 8 ms 6 ms 5 ms xxxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
3 7 ms 5 ms 5 ms xxxxxxxx.optusnet.com.au [198.142.xx.xx]
4 8 ms 8 ms 7 ms xxxxxxxxxxx.gw.optusnet.com.au [198.142.xxx.xxx]
5 10 ms 6 ms 8 ms xxx-xxx-3.gw.optusnet.com.au [211.31.xxx.xxx]
6 182 ms 180 ms 178 ms 203.208.191.61
7 558 ms 186 ms 187 ms 208.50.13.165

And here’s our server admins explanation:

“It looks like this issue originated in
AU – 203.208.191.61 on that router:

OrgName: Asia Pacific Network Information Centre

So on the AU side of the pond there was latency, which contributed to
additional latency on GBLX (Global Crossing) which you can see here:

5 10 ms 6 ms 8 ms xxx-xxx-xxxx.optusnet.com.au [211.31.xxxxx.xxxx]
6 182 ms 180 ms 178 ms 203.208.191.61

GBLX had some massive latency on an inbound router and inbound traffic is controlled via the user’s ISP, from a source IP hop.”

Be afraid…

In the Blackboard patent case, “the jury handed down its verdict that the patent is valid and that Blackboard should be awarded damages of approximately $3 million.” OLDaily

Oucha, let’s hope they haven’t got anything in about blogs huh ;)

Update: More from Michael Feldstein who is – like me – speechless (I think I  just assumed they were trolling).

And a letter on their blog (Stephen’s links doesn’t work).

Michael promises more from the eerily named Jim Farmer (I used to be a Jim!) and I’ll be tuning in… and so should you.

CommentPress in action on Edublogs

Have been browsing around looking for a good example of an blogger using CommentPress in action on Edublogs and lo and behold, check this out.

The Biology Space is actually not using the main CP skin but rather their ‘blog’ version (which we also provide :) and I really like the way that it allows for paragraph-based commenting outside in this format – see this post for a great example.

Rock on!

Blogsavvy is for sale!

I think it’s time to hand over the reins of Blogsavvy to someone who can make a decent business out of it given that I’m pretty much flat out with Edublogs and Incsub stuff these days.

So, here’s your chance to get hold of not just a great established PR 5/6 ‘about blogs’ site that could easily be converted into a damn good publication with ads sorta thing, but also a business in it’s own right that’ll get you heaps of contacts for blog consultancy, development, design and whatever else you fancy.

Check out this Google for Blog Consultant, for example.. .not hard to get to number 1 again :)

Bidding starts at $5K and you can walk away with it today for $10K.

View Auction

More Edublogs stuff than you can take in one hit. Yet still, apparently, it is not enough…

Support for 34 different languages.

Brand new global tagging feature – check this out for example.

3 Gig of upload space now available (existing subscribers already upgraded)

New themes and widgets.

Copyright protection for RSS feeds.

The Edublogger rocking out (go Sue!)

Edublogs Campus becoming cheaper every day (if you’re not in the US… in which case it’s the same price).

Even more new and exciting stuff coming v. soon too!

And yet, for some reason, we’re not cool for Open Courseware… even though we offer themes like CommentPress for essays and the ideal platform to share, brilliant education focussed support and, even if I do say so myself, some much nicer themes alongside much more extensive functionality… and we won’t even insert sneaky adsense into your material.

C’mon guys… what do we have to do next!

Say howdy to Edublogs Supporter

Big day at Edublogs… we’ve just launched Edublogs Supporter (announcement post here).

I’ve never been a fan of donations, for a whole heap of reasons, and I hope this treads the line between purchasing extra features and supporting the site. Basically, existing users (or new ones :) can purchase an upgrade to ‘Supporter’ which gives them some neato extra features (massive Twitter integration, FeedBurner automation, blog post versioning and more…) and also respect and listing as a Supporter of Edublogs on the front page (we select 10 random Supporters every hour).

And we’ll be adding lots more, hopefully based on requests!

Of course the free feature-set will continue growing (we’ve got some very nice plans regarding stats and other elements) but this is aiming to be the icing on the cake of that, and something that will allow us to carry on and even accelerate improvements across the site.

Whaddya reckon? Sound like a good plan?

More bloglines woes

Yet again Bloglines aren’t answering emails to assist with either their crawlers invasive behavior on WPMU sites or their inability to successfully track some edublogs feeds for which I (and some users) have been contacting them for over a week.

The last couple of times posting here was the only way to get their attention (although they didn’t respond to the poem) so here’s hoping it works again.

And Paul, who was so helpful last time, seems to have left them… ho hum.

So unless you want us to advise every Edublogger not to use bloglines and recommend to all of their readers that they don’t too…  which is really the only course of action left if you don’t help us… please get in touch guys!