Merry Christmas Everybody!

25 by Leo Reynolds.I started working at Edge Hill around the same time IT Services launched the GO portal and there was talk in the office the first Christmas about how many people would be logging in on Christmas day.

We don’t have the stats for Christmas day 2006, but we do have last couple of years so now you can check out how many people were logging in a year ago today (except I’m writing this in November so it’s not a year ago for me).

Last year GO received 840 visits on Christmas day.  Here’s an hourly breakdown – thick blue line is 2008 stats and the thin green line is 2007:

GO stats for Christmas day 2007 and 2008

The main Edge Hill website received even more visitors. Again, thick blue line is 2008 stats and the thin green line is 2007:

Edge Hill University website stats for Christmas day 2007 and 2008

I wonder if either site will beat those figures this year!

That’s all for 25 days of blogging – I hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of the posts and thank you to everyone who’s commented.  See you in 2010 where we’ll start it all again with some very exciting projects on the cards (well, on the product backlog actually!)

125 by 125

Do you ever have really great ideas that on second thoughts are incredibly stupid?  Yeah, I have them all the time but usually I’m sensible enough not to tell anyone about them.  A month ago I was caught out by an email from Corporate Marketing Communications and Student Recruitment asking what people are doing for the anniversary celebrations.  I had a flash of inspiration and fired off a reply:

I’ll do something with Twitter or a blog for 125, maybe similar to the 365 projects that people do – one photo per day for 125 days.

It was that quick.  Fast forward 30 days and I’m starting to think that was a really, really stupid suggestion.  Writing 25 posts across the whole team has been difficult enough so what am I playing at committing to posting every day for four months?!

If I’m going to have any chance of making this work I’m going to a) need help and b) make it simple, so give me your ideas, people!  My initial thought was to raid the archives, take a load of photos and just post them rather than having to write lots for each day – that way I could spend an hour or two every couple of weeks and schedule ahead.  I could also broaden it out and persuade other people to blog or highlights from some of the 125 events happening on campus.

Picking things that might be of interest is also important – I’m not doing this for myself – so what would you like to see?  Post your comments below!

Xmas Digital Art Wallpapers

We are very close to the Christmas holidays again and I thought it’s about time to decorate my desktop while counting down the days. I’ve been browsing the web to see what is available and I found some awesome designs from VLADSTUDIO, which offers the usual kind of digital art given away as desktop decorations. Just to keep you and I on the Christmas spirit.

Download instructions are pretty obvious, and there are plenty of resolutions to choose from. The low quality wallpapers are free to download, the quality is good enough, but if you prefer the high quality you will need to register on their site. Unregistered users can download several different resolutions – 800×480, 800×600, 1024×600, 1024×768, 1152×864, 1280×1024, 1600×1200px.

These are for personal use on your desktop only! Do not use for anything else without the authors permission!

Snegovick

Christmas Nights Christmas Nights

Christmas VolcanoChristmas Volcano

Christmas TrainChristmas Train

Waiting For The Miracle
Waiting for the Miracle

Christmas Ice Skating
Ice Skating

Snow Man Snow Child
Snow Man Snow Child

Christmas Bag
Christmas Bag

Siberian Winter
Siberian Winter

A Small Gift For Christmas
A Small Gift for Xmas

Waiting for the Spring
Waiting for Spring

Where Christmas Gifts Are BornWhere Xmas Gifts are Born

Welcome to 25 days of blogging

Regular readers of the Web Services blog may have noted that post frequency is a little biased towards me… well over the next 25 days, more of us will be blogging about a variety of topics in the run up to the Christmas break.

From my point of view this is a purely selfish measure for a couple of reasons.  Firstly it takes the pressure off me to write posts.  Secondly, for the last couple of years my annual online advent calendar has failed due to lack of motivation – this will solve that by making it everyone’s problem!

So what are we going to cover in the next few weeks?  Well, we don’t know yet as not everything is written but it will probably be like a year’s worth of blog posts compressed into under a month!  Hopefully we’ll cover updates on some of our current projects, future plans, things we’ve been looking at and maybe a few things just for fun.

Much of what we write will be scheduled, so don’t feel sorry us – no one will be logging in on Christmas day to update the blog, but that also means we may not react to comments as quickly as normal.

If you’ve got any ideas for things you’d like to hear about or suggestions for fun and festive things we can post, leave a comment, or if you don’t want to spoil the surprise for others, drop us an email at webteam@edgehill.ac.uk. We may also be joined by some special guest bloggers from outside Web Services, but you’ll have to wait to find out who!

Finally, if you’re unsure whether it’s Christmas yet, check out www.isitchristmas.com – bah, humbug 😉

Desktop blogging with Windows Live Writer

Windows Live WriterFor most of the time we’ve had this blog I’ve used the online editor built into WordPress. I’ve dabbled with the WordPress iPhone application but it’s only good for posting the odd photo and not the in-depth posts readers expect.

I’d heard of tools that allowed you to draft posts offline but never really thought they’d match what WordPress were able to do themselves. A post on SitePoint led me to look again at some of the tools and Windows Live Writer from Microsoft actually seems rather good!

All the things that you can’t do through a web-based editor like cut and paste images Just Work. I’m going to try it for my next few posts to see how it goes!

Blogs on the go

So mobile is the next big thing, right? People have been saying that for the last 10 years! First WAP, then those crazy phones from Japan… Now we’ve got Apple iPhone and Google Android and Palm’s Pre and even Nokia have been able to produce some reasonable devices! With modern phones come modern web browsers and bundled data making it cost effective enough to browse the web for more than 30 seconds.

All these phones are capable of browsing the so-called “full web” but equally, users often expect a version of the site optimised for mobiles. That’s what we’ve been able to do on the Edge Hill blogging platform using a nifty little WordPress plugin called WPtouch.

It intercepts requests from certain mobile devices (currently iPhone, iPod Touch & Android) and a special theme with a few custom features to integrate more closely with phones. If you want to see the original site, there’s a toggle switch at the bottom of the page.

It’s available for all blogs hosted on blogs.edgehill.ac.uk so if you’ve got one of these phones, give it a try and let us know what you think. We’re starting to look into doing more for the mobile web both for the corporate site and for GO so keep an eye out for future developments.

Mobile blog homepage Mobile blog add comments

Google Wave is coming soon! – Part I

Google Wave was launched on the 28th May, 2009 at the ‘Google’s I/O Developer conference’ in San Francisco. It has been developed by a team working in Sydney, Australia. Which consist of two brothers, Jens and Lars Rasmussen and has Stephanie Hannon as the lead project manager, all of whom were previously involved in Google Maps.

What it is Google Wave?

It is a new platform for communication and collaboration on the web in real time coming later this year. I can’t wait!

It is based on a “Wave”, a different way to communicate by integrating many of the tools we are currently using such as email, maps, videos, photos, blogs and chats in just one interface. So, we can create a wave and invite our collaborators to join the conversation by giving them access to send simple messages and edit the wave directly. Truly Impressive.

It combines some of people’s favourite aspects of email, instant messaging, wikis, blogs, chats, projects and social networks. There’s even a twitter client (Twave robot) – you can tweet into and out of a wave!

Google Wave interface

The following are few of the cool features from the demo:

  • Real Time: Drop photos onto a wave and see the thumbnails appear on the other person’s machine before the full upload is finished. Just watch the demo to view this
  • Embeddability: The waves can be embedded in any blog or site
  • Drag and Drop: Wave lets you drag and drop files directly onto its interface
  • googlewave1editdoc

  • Open Source, Applications and extensions: With open APIs developers will be able to create different applications for the waves. There will be plenty volunteers.
    The API has been used to build a bunch of cool extensions such as:
    • Bloggy, a blog client, lets you make a blog post as a wave
    • Linky is a link-recognition engine that is clever enough to recognize that the link you just entered is a YouTube video
    • Buggy, a bug-reporting tool that can also be a participant in a wave
    • Bidder, You can turn a wave into your own eBay
  • Wiki Functionality: anything within the Google Wave can be edited by other members
  • Playback: We will able to reproduce any part of the wave to keep track of what is being said or done and to see how it evolved
  • Translation: Wave has the capacity of autocorrecting and translating in real time, which allows collaborative work among people that don’t share the same language
  • Spell Checker: an extension called Spelly which uses the entire corpus of the web as its dictionary

googlewave4spelling

Google Wave is promising to change the scope in: Education, e-learning, collaborative projects, companies and organizations, as it can be the most popular tool to create Personal Learning Environment or Personal Learning Networks.

Could Google Wave really redefine web communication? We’re going to have to wait a while though to find out, as this product is still under development. Right now it’s only available to a select group of developers who attended Google I/O conference and have an account to create their own Wave servers. I’m sure there will a lot of articles on the web keeping us informed of the development process, pros and cons.

If you want to find out more about Google Wave, allow yourself some time to watch the full demo, then you will be able to understand why people are extremely excited.


Happy 2nd Birthday Web Services Blog

Happy Birthday

Today is the second birthday of the Web Services blog! Is it really a year since the last birthday and two years since Alison’s first post?!  Yes, it really is.

The frequency of posts has dropped off in the last year – we’ve crept up to 201 posts – but we’ve still covered a lot. Here’s a few of the bigger topics:

So a busy year, and that barely compares to what’s coming up.  We’re in the middle of redeveloping Faculty and Department websites, starting with the Department of Magic.  In the last few months we have given GO a facelift, ready for new features and integration of the staff intranet.

Interesting times ahead, so keep reading for the next year in the life of the Web Services blog.

Encarta bit by Wikipedia: Another triumph for Web 2.0

Microsoft announces the closure of Encarta later this year after losing ground over the years to freely available reference material on the Internet and on web sites like Wikipedia.

“People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past,”

the software maker said in a notice posted on its MSN website. As described in a Bits blog, the Wiki-dominance is so far-reaching that it got 97% of the visits that Web surfers in the U.S. made to online encyclopaedias, while Encarta was second with 1.27%.

Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years. However, the category of traditional encyclopaedias and reference material has changed. Now Encarta itself has fallen victim to changes in technology. Well, it looks like Wikipedia is here to stay without strong rivals on the net, the question is for how long?

The plug will be officially pulled in October of this year but Microsoft will also stop selling the Encarta products by June. RIP Encarta 1993 – 2009.

Janeth

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