Week Notes: 29 November

  • This week’s new homepage developments:
    • Refactoring have some of the site works, in particular to simplify how JavaScript and CSS interact to style the page.
    • Switching the responsive navigation from jPanelMenu to Sidr allowing the contents of the menu to be dynamically extracted from existing elements on the page rather than replicated in the HTML.
    • Started building a staging homepage. This will be a copy of the homepage and a new plugin for WordPress enabling the publishing of settings, widgets, pages and media to the live site, plus the ability to save draft versions and roll back changes.
  • Edge Hill Central for iOS has been released to the App Store and should be available to download within the next 24 hours.
  • Had discussions with colleagues from Student Recruitment about the next steps for Getting Started for new students.
  • Testing new hardware for streaming next weekend’s Graduation via YouTube Live – more information about this next week!
  • Discussions with Finance and Learning Services about how to raise the profile of Online Payments such as printer credits and library fines.
  • Migrated to new theme:
  • Working on several new WordPress sites for English as a Foreign Language and the Faculty of Education’s
  • UK-China Conference.
  • Set up a new live chat session for Student Recruitment and the Faculty of Education to run next week
  • JIRA – Created: 27; Resolved: 28
  • RMS – Created: 20; Closed: 18

Publishing early as I’m taking a few hours flexi but I’m sure loads more will happen on Friday afternoon!

Favourite discovery of the week was that the awesome isitchristmas.com now forces you to connect via SSL:

Week Notes: 22 November

  • This week saw many in Corporate Communications and Student Recruitment get their first look at the new homepage design at Tuesday’s super-Edmon meeting.
  • CAKE conference holding website and discussions about developments for the full site next year.
  • Websites migrated to TwentyTwelve child theme:
  • We now force users logging into and editing our WordPress sites (including the corporate website, blogs and online.edgehill.ac.uk) to connect via SSL. This follows Durham enabling SSL for all connections last month (subscription to JISCMAIL WEB-SUPPORT list required to view). This isn’t something we currently force – though sites are available through SSL – but we’re considering the implications of switching it on.
  • Added oEmbed provider support to our News website. Now you can get some embeddable content directly from edgehill.ac.uk/news/*. We plan to extend this to other types of content such as events, profiles etc.
  • Edge Hill Central app has been submitted to the iOS App Store – subject to Apple’s approval it will be available shortly.
  • Continued auditing our sites and cleared out a number of dead ones including the public Web Services page!
  • JIRA – Created: 23; Resolved: 26
  • RMS – Created: 10; Cleared: 10

That’s all for this week but if you have a Windows ME related crisis over the weekend then fear not – I’ve got you covered!

Week Notes: 15 November

  • Steve Daniels and I attended the Percona Live London conference on Tuesday. Steve has a bit of a write up.
  • Jenny Jordan and I represented IT Services at the first meeting of the Student Affairs Committee. There’s always work going on across the University to improve the student experience and some of the changes in our department can play an important part in that.
  • We’ve been building some additional functionality for the new homepage ahead of it going live in the next couple of weeks. One feature we hope not to use is the ability to push alert notices onto the homepage – think “escaped monkey on campus”, or more likely “campus still open despite the snow” – and what was previously a frantic hack to the homepage will be possible with just a few clicks.
  • Delivered Wiki and WordPress training for two Graduate Trainees working in Corporate Communications and Student Recruitment.
  • Alumni website is now in WordPress with a new homepage design.
  • As always, there’s lots to do ahead of tomorrow’s Open Day and this time we’ve been pushing content out to selected screens across campus plus getting some Media students’ work up on the new video wall in Creative Edge.
  • JIRA – Created: 20; Resolved: 20
  • RMS – Created: 11; Cleared: 12

Congratulations to Alison Kerwin (formerly of this parish) and her team at the University of York on the launch of their homepage redesign.

University of York

Suppose I should get the beers in ready for when ours goes live!

Percona Live London 2013

Over the recent months I’ve been pushing myself to be more of a software engineer than a “coder”. To that end I’ve been investing my time heavily in a lot of things, and part of that is attending talks and conferences on interesting topics. So when I saw the tweet below, I jumped at the chance!

I earnestly entered and chance would have it, I won two tickets to Percona Live. The boss, Mike Nolan, graciously decided free was a good amount to spend on professional development. It probably didn’t hurt that I offered him the second ticket.

We unfortunately didn’t get to attend the well regarded Percona Live tutorials, something I was reminded of talking to other attendees when they mentioned quite how good they were. We did however try to attend different sessions on the conference schedule.

The keynotes were both informative and amusing, Mike hadn’t previously been aware of the animosity between Monty and Oracle, by the end of the keynotes he was. Nothing serious, just veiled digs!

Here’s the breakdown of my day:

Whilst I took notes in most of the talks covering tips, tricks, tweaks.. my biggest take home was from Luis Motta Campos‘ talk about MySQL, the ebay Classifieds Way. It was really interesting to see things we do (and have planned to do) at Edge Hill University, done on such a scale in a truly professional way. It both reinforced my plans for our own infrastructure and heavily added to my wishlist and roadmap!

Hopefully I’ll get some more time next week to do a more detailed break down of the individual talks. Or perhaps cover PHPNW 2013 or the Inviqa TDD Immersion day I did over the past couple of months!

Steve Daniels

Week Notes: 8 November

  • The homepage designs have been honed and debugged and are perilously close to being ready to go live.
  • Part of this work was reviewing how far to go to support non-JavaScript users. GDS have some interesting findings showing a gap between the number of users who have JavaScript switched on and off: people who have JS turned on but for whom it doesn’t execute.
  • On Wednesday I met colleagues from Learning Services to look at how we can make use of YouTube Live for streaming corporate events such as graduation ceremonies.
  • Work on moving profiles into WordPress continues with valuable assistance from Mark who’s doing some work collating information about staff for Corporate Comms.
  • Updated another WordPress installation – this time the one that hosts the bbPress/BuddyPress-powered Think Applicant Forums.
  • Moved our shared network storage across to a new platform.
  • The Scholarships website joins Biology and Social Sciences is now in our TwentyTwelve child theme.
  • Several key sites start their migration into WordPress – Graduation should be relatively straightforward but Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Study sites each contain hundreds of pages so for the first time we’re planning a staged transition, initially moving the homepages before working through the rest of each site.
  • Feedback on our beta site search has been broadly positive so we’re fine tuning it with promoted pages and auto complete suggestions to ensure visitors get to the most relevant results. Feedback still welcome.
  • In JIRA – our team project management tool – we created 42 and resolved 41 issues in the last week.
  • RMS – 23 calls came in through the service desk and we cleared 32 (which will include some carried over from last week).

Finally, I learnt the hard way the importance of triple-checking what window you’re in after I accidentally restarted our development server on Monday morning after 999 days, 20 hours and 30 minutes continuous uptime – I just had time to grab a screenshot before it disconnected:

999 days uptime

1000 is a pretty arbitrary number anyway, and it gives Infrastructure Solutions to do some maintenance on the virtual machine that wasn’t possible without shutting it down so every cloud has a silver lining.

Week Notes: 1 November

Following Bath’s example – we’ve never been afraid to steal some of their ideas – we’re planning to publish “week notes” each Friday giving a summary of the week’s activities.

  • Launched a beta version of our new Google Site Search powered corporate website search engine.
  • Work continues apace on the new corporate homepage built in WordPress. Chris is working through final changes suggested by the boss.
  • We’re also reviewing the status of our top level sites to see which we can update to the new WordPress theme or migrate into WordPress from statically built sites.
  • Last week we received training for the new AMX digital signage that’s in Creative Edge and BioSciences so we’re working on pushing content out to those devices.
  • Dan has been working on bringing Student Profiles into WordPress.
  • Upgraded WordPress to 3.7.1 from 3.7 on the corporate site and 3.6.1 on blogs. Because we use version control this isn’t automated.
  • Yesterday I went to SWIG – the Liverpool WordPress group – hosted by Interconnect IT (who also provide the excellent WP User Guide we use as the basis for training and support). Robert O’Rourke did a very interesting talk about typogrophie and the balance of form and function based on the teachings of Emil Ruder. (Update: slides for the talk – with lots of examples – are now available)

Meanwhile, on the internets, it’s interesting to see Twitter pushing media content more with the inclusion of pictures inline in the timeline:

It would be nice if they are also able to expose content from Twitter Cards as all our news stories and events have them enabled.