Plog, the PhotoBlog

The photos that are displayed on the home page of vlog were being taken from a proto-photoblog that I had set up. Well, I’ve spent a good part of today getting that fit for semi-public consumption. Plog is a photoblog. At this point I’m thinking I don’t want any text with the images on the home page, though in the archive pages you’ll find at least a caption and title. I might even think about experimenting with always publishing 3 images at a time and so thinking about the simple horizontal arrangement as a panel.

I’ve borrowed some tips from the fine developer of Kung-Log.

PANDORA’d again

Well, I just found out yesterday that another electronic project I’ve been involved with has been archived by PANDORA. This one is bonza, an Australian film resource that Deb Verhoeven and I developed a few years ago in the context of a third year applied film studies project.

DAC and Pandora

A pleasant email waiting for me today:

We would like to include MelbourneDAC, the 5th International Digital Arts and Culture Conference at http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/dac/ in the PANDORA Archive and I would be grateful if you would let me know whether you are willing to permit us to do so, that is, grant us a licence under the Copyright Act 1968, to copy your publications into the Archive and to provide public access to it via the Web. A small form is provided at the end of this message for your convenience.

The PANDORA (Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia) Archive was set up by the Library in 1996 to enable the archiving and provision of long-term access to online Australian publications. Since then we have been identifying online publications and archiving those that we consider have national significance. Additional information about PANDORA can be found on the Library’s server at: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/index.html

This is of course flattering for the event, it is also one of the more significant forms of cultural endorsement available in Australia for online work. I wonder if they have archived any blogs yet?

eCommerce, eBanking, and Clients

A pet hate. A BIG pet hate. I use internet banking, a lot. I regularly purchase things online. My Australian bank has a decent online service, when I used to work in Norway I couldn’t use their online banking (and given I spent a considerable time of every year in Australia I’m an ideal online banking client) because it didn’t work on Macs.

Right now I have tried to use the SAS web site to get a ticket price. I’ve used three Mac web browsers. The site does not work on any of them. Why am I cross? Not because they have made stuff that only works on one platform or one browser. But that they have made content that farms out a pile of the processing work to the client, which is why it doesn’t work on Macs.

Now, why does that piss me off? Each of these organisations are major service industries, the rationale to make the client do the processing work is from a computer processing centric universe to preserve CPU cycles and overheads at their end. Translated into the real world it is the equivalent of when I go to the bank I count the money, put it in the vault, and add up my total. As a service organisation with enormous expenditures (and generally profits) they ought to take on the cost of providing the hardware, bandwidth, and processing, of the transactions so all my client has to do is receive a nice simple https stream. No complex code, just as plain vanilla html as you can approach. Transactions should be farmed out their end. That’s what service means. They have the capital here, not me. So right now SAS lost a possible sale. The same problem happens here at RMIT where all my employee information is handily available online. Same story. All the work is farmed to the client.

What I really do not understand is that in my experience every time I have come across this problem it is in the service sector, where an institution moves some functionality online to enhance ‘access’ and in that moment manages to confuse the provision of the service with the reverse and completely opposite IT managers perspective of minimising resources. And then they wonder why their ecommerce ‘solution’ costs more than it makes. Small brains, small vision.

Mail 1.3 and Eudora

Anders is continuing his occasional series on Apple and interface. Got to totally agree with the preferences settings for Mail and Safari, worst sort of interface chauvinism. What I wish I knew before I moved to Mail is what I read at the Eudora Mailbox Cleaner page. Can vouch for every problem described there, from the loss of date information right through to marking read mail as unread. duh, I usually check for these things first. Thrice bitten twice shy.

DAC, Email and Closure

Spent a lot of my Monday writing the last entries into the MelbourneDAC blog. I’ve written a 12 page report for the University, and now that I’ve written up the last of the stuff into the blog my DAC jobs are pretty much finished. A good thing to get completed. Now to move on to the next thing.

The other major thing that consumed my time was Apple’s mail.app 1.3. I’ve finally migrated from Eudora to Mail, though am hovering on a possible return. Yesterday I had to force quit Mail and from that point on everytime Mail tried to set the flags for the In box via IMAP it would crash. Every time, no matter what I tried. Could launch with no network access, but as soon as it found the IMAP server, up in a puff of smoke. Spent ages searching for solutions, found quite a few people having trouble with Mail, but no solution. Yes, I removed preferences, caches, even the offending mailbox. Eventually I just deleted the account, set up a pop account to get my mail just to check what was there, then deleted the pop account and set up the IMAP account again. Everything happy.

Why have I finally moved to Mail? Well the spam filtering is just too good to ignore. Currently over 50% of my email is spam, a legacy I guess of having my email on web pages from 1993 or 1994, and Mail speeds sorting through this significantly. It has much better IMAP support than Eudora, and I also like its integration with Apple’s Address Book, because in Eudora I was keeping two address books (Apple’s and Eudora’s) which is obviously not very efficient. There are some other email clients out there that use Apple’s address book, but none that I was happy with. What I am worried about is the level of integration going on here. If it is all xml or something then fine, but I don’t know and now that iCal talks to the Address Book and both talk to Mail I’m entering a world of proprietary and legacy integration that I am suspicious of. Integration is all very well but as Ander’s has observed, it also has the potential to constrain or break. It can, eventually reduce choice because, for example, a better email program may not integrate with iCal and Address Book. Though having written that I’ve seen freeware that lets iCal use other email clients, and the fact that other email clients can access Address Book would suggest their data formats are accessible, hopefully freely.

Conference Management

The Public Knowledge Project Open Conference System. This is very very good, and I wish I had it when I ran MelbourneDAC. There I used Movable Type to maintain the conference website (eventually) and START as the online academic paper management system. START was a version one freebie, the better version had gone commercial, so it did the job but without the interface enhancements and to keep it running took some command line tinkering.

Quickie (aka vogs listed in a wiki)

This evening I think is being bought to you by the letter “Q”…

Ok, in the yat wiki you’ll find a useful preliminary vog list. Though no offence to Mark, I think he’d be surprised to learn that he’s a vog thinker (or perhaps not come to think about it). Certainly someone I’d want in my corner anyways.

Quietly Quietly

It is end of semester time around here so I’ve been buried the last few days assessing work. Which accounts for the quietness in the blog, though just as I was readying to leave the office a bevy of trackbacks arrived from Jenny’s class. So I’ve been busy writing brief comments to all their blogs, though I’m not sure what they’ll make of it all.

An Aside on Journal Assessments

At the moment I’m finishing up my semester’s marking. In one applied project course I ran everyone had to keep journals, which was to document their experience of their projects, problems, what worked, what didn’t, and to be the pretty general scrap book for their semester’s activities. In one small group where there were only four participants, two men and two women, what is rather plainly evident (though the sample makes it too small) are specific gender differences in the journal writing. For the two men as I read their journal (which tend to read more like reports than journals) you wouldn’t really know that there were four people involved in the project. At best two, the two that they had to work with most closely. With the two women’s journals though it is quite evident that there are four people collaborating. The difference is very marked and I imagine goes straight to gender stereotypes about socialisation, communication and community – that woman provide most of the social glue in families, etc. I’ll see what happens with the larger group, where there were 12 collaborating on the one project. This is the first time I’ve actively used book journals in teaching and I can see that I need to do much more work about why you would keep a journal because the good ones are clearly very helpful to the projects and individual learning.

Stranger Danger, aka Blogs and Teaching

Jenny has commented my post where I point out that she’s set up a teaching blog, pedabloggy (now that’s a good tur

David Wolf

David’s blog001 explores interactive video, he’s based in Melbourne and you can find a blurb with a bit more info. He’s only just starting his research, so it’ll be interesting to see where the blog leads…