Tag: wordpress

2013 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 61,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Here’s some of the great things that caught my attention this week from the fingertips of Ontaro Edubloggers.

Using Google Apps to Make Interactive Stories

Sylvia Duckworth produced a very helpful instructional blog showing yet another use for Google Forms.  This time, she gives a step by step set of instructions for creating an interactive Adventure.

And, it comes as no surprise that her demonstrations include one adventure in English and another one in French!

This was but the beginning – she continues to show how to create interactive stories in Presentations, Google Docs, and YouTube.  If you’re looking for a little something different, there’s a great deal here.

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The Appearance of Credibility and Other Useless Pursuits

There was a gentleman in my first school who had this assessment myth attributed to him.  Come report card time, he would call each student to stand in front of his desk, look the student up and down, and then generate a mark for the student.

Of course, that’s the stuff of staff room lore and had no basis in truth.  But, it was a good story!  Assessment and Evaluation have been hot professional development topics that have been “done” recently.

In this post, Tim King spins his own thoughts about assessment.

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#ecoo13 review

You can’t beat a good blog post.  But, what is a blog anyway?

Does it have to be something that’s done in WordPress or Blogger?

Or is it the content and the message that’s important?  Of course, it is.

Lisa Noble, instead of using a traditional blogging platform, used a presentation format to share her thoughts and takeaways from the recent Educational Computing Organization of Ontario conference.

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The 3-D MakerBot Arrives at F.E. Madill

Very cool things are happening in Heather Durnin’s class.  She blogs about the 3-D MakerBot’s arrival and ultimate setup at the school.  If you read the blog and see how the setup was done, you’ll be confident that the “kids are alright”.  This will be a very nice addition to her classroom.  I’m jealous.

I cracked a big grin when she asked if these two printers could co-exist!

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#RCAC13 Final Program

If you’re able to make it to London on December 5, you’ll absolutely get a great day of Professional Learning at the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Annual Symposium.  It’s just one day in length but you’ll get a chance to hear two inspirational keynote speakers – Travis Allen and Gary Stager – as well as attend sessions from educational leaders from the Western Ontario region.

Oh, and you’ll have a wonderful Christmas dinner.

Full disclosure – I’ve been asked to co-chair the conference again with Doug Sadler.  It’s been a local event that I’ve been so passionate about since my first year as a consultant with the Essex County Board of Education.  I always used to bring my superintendent and key principals to hear what’s happening in other school districts just up the 401.  Every other school district would do the same thing and we would serve to push each other to greater and greater things.  It’s a full days of ideas and inspiration.

As Rodd Lucier notes:

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Please take a few moments to read this posts and check out all of those in the Ontario Educational Blogging community.  My collection can be found in the LiveBinder located here.

Response to Spammers


Daily, I take a peek at what Akismet has caught for spam.  There’s the occasional legitimate comment that gets trapped there and I’d hate to let it go by and so I’ll unflag it.  However, you do have to read or at least skim the content to make that determination.  And, of course, there’s the real, legitimate spam.  Sometimes, the content just is too precious to not ignore completely.

You’ve gotten good stuff on this site.

Thanks.  I gots lot of time invested in this.

You have one of the greatest web-sites.

Well, I like to think it’s good – “great” to be determined. But thanks for noticing.

You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

OK, this brought a tear to my eye.  I’m still not falling for your link baiting though.

Cannot believe the naive comments. You go and visit these places and you will see exactly what having this sort of communication means to the community. Alerts for all sorts of disasters

Now, don’t go insulting the readers of this blog.  They’re anything but naive.

Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic
but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve
had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.
I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

You’d think that this question would be redundant since the URL is dougpete.wordpress.com.  I guess things aren’t immediately obvious!

Basically had to say I’m just lucky I happened in your website.

Maybe you should buy a lottery ticket today.  Hopefully, your luck continues.

Don’t blindly!We must believe ourself.

I have no idea how to respond to this.

I have been browsing online greater than 3 hours these
days, but I never discovered any fascinating article like yours.
It’s pretty worth sufficient for me. Personally, if all
webmasters and bloggers made just right content material as you did,
the net might be much more useful than ever before.

My goal in life is to be sufficient

女性のモックと基本的には、ソートにアイデンティティ内の明確なポイントがあります通知する必要がありますのとの色のハンドバッグ彼女は陸上競技。あなたはあなたの好みの内でそれに対応します。選択する最も適切なの好きな、非常に良くお過ごしください。最高の結果が良い。上記のネゴシエーション ヘルパーに勝ちます。始めるために上、特定の負荷をほぼ軽減 !ニューヨーク市の今日ほとんどの人々 を運ぶ袋のわいせつな様々 な有名です。我々 は、いくつかを運ぶことができるだけでなく彼らも非常に従順されています。

あなたは本当に意味をなさないことを、知っている。

Finn sex seksuell gratis dating på nett?
På vår date side glade for å gi deg veiledning om hvordan Lusty sex mennn, jenter eller par
som søker sextreff oslo
Beste norsk sex annonser med kåte kvinner for flørte enkelt menn og damer
Guide hvordan a ønsker din treff i nett. Vi tilbyr beste Manuell for

Denne bloggen ikke spille det spillet. Unnskyld.

Aw, yes.  Comments make blogging worthwhile!

 

Tips and Advice and A Reflection


Regular readers know that I’m a sucker for these types of posts.  I find them a great chance to do a little self-analysis about the content of this blog and I do hope that the articles find their way into your collection of resources to use in the your own blogging classroom.  While I’m a real supporter of getting students to blog, I think that it’s even more important for students to sit back and analyse their efforts after their done.

Today, from Digital Bloggers, I read the post Tips and Advice For Writing a Successful Blog.  Below, I’ve pulled the tips from the post and reflected on my own experiences.  As always, I’d appreciate your thoughts about what I’ve done right and what I’ve done or interpreted incorrectly.

I recognize that the slant from this post is towards those who are probably using blogging for business but aren’t we all selling something?

Here goes:

  • TIP! Find blogs within your niche and comment on their posts. If you are a user of Google Reader, have a different folder filled with other blogs you want to keep tabs on.
    • I like serendipity!  I rely on Zite and Rockmelt and various other tools to find new content for me.  During the school year, I’ll also follow the hashtag #comments4kids.  I am a regular reader of Ontario Edublogs (see link in the right sidebar) for content.  I do acknowledge that I’m not necessarily the greatest at regularly commenting on other blogs but I do read them.
  • TIP! Make sure that you add to your blog on a regular basis. If you want to grow your readership, it is necessary to inject fresh content regularly.
    • I do try my best to share one thought or idea on a daily basis.  The best thing I ever did for myself was to learn to blog offline.  That way, I can use the tool as a planning or just a collection area.  I’ll have a lot of ideas on the go and some eventually turn into posts.
  • TIP! Invite successful bloggers to write guest blogs for your site. This can increase your content’s quality substantially.
    • I’ve never done that.  Anyone want to write a post for me?
  • TIP! To increase your search engine rankings, continually post relevant, high-quality blogs. You will instantly have an increase of readers when it is easier to connect with your site.
    • That’s always a challenge.  Sometimes, I’ll write something that I think is the world’s greatest post and get no response.  Other times, it’s just a random thought and the idea takes off like crazy.  How do you know, in advance, if something will be “high quality”?
  • TIP! Try to write about topics that will always be in demand. It makes sense to create blogs around concepts that have longevity, because that will help bring in a larger audience.
    • I think this is relatively easy in education.  Great educators are always looking for new ideas, or a post that confirms that their current philosophy or practice is shared by someone else, or they can just answer the question “How did you learn that?” but pointing to a post that they’ve read.  
  • TIP! Be careful when deciding whether to use ads in a blog. This is a great way to make money, but your visitors may be turned off by ads.
    • I don’t accept advertising.  (Actually, nobody has ever asked so I’ve never had to deal with this)  Advertising that does appear here is generated by WordPress to pay their bills.  I’ve set up my own hosted site but prefer to model the free service that WordPress offers just to model to anyone that they can get into blogging for free.
  • TIP! Never underestimate the importance of content and promotion. Quality content and targeted promotion are the two elements that are probably the most important to a successful blog.
    • I do try to target education but I’ve always given myself license to write about whatever interests me at any point in time.
  • TIP! If you are utilizing pop-up windows, be sure to have them load after the main content of your site. This will ensure that readers will see your content before they see a stream of pop-up windows.
    • I hate pop-up windows and don’t use them.  I also have pop-up windows denied in all of my web browsers so I may actually miss others popups.
  • TIP! Higher quality viewers will come to the blog if you utilize strong backlinks, and you will also earn higher search engine rankings. If Google and other search engines see your page as authoritative, you will rank higher.
    • I’ve never been concerns about search engine ranking.  If you search for “dougpete”, you’ll find me.  Chances are, I’ll never be mentioned on those “Tops 6000 Education Bloggers” lists but I’m OK with that.  A lot of those articles contain links to blogs that haven’t been updated for a long time anyway so I question the value.  I have a core group of regular readers and I value that the most
  • TIP! Your aim for your blog should be to get your viewers to do what you want, when you want. Construct posts and upload videos that explain and demonstrate various ways of doings things for your visitors.
    • I would like to think I’m sort of along those lines.  I don’t necessarily care if you do what I do but I think that it’s good to always read about new things and then leave it to the reader to adopt or ignore according to their own needs.  The key is knowing that we live in an ever-changing world – there are awesome developers who are constantly creating and making available new and more enabling technologies that make things better for schools, teachers, and students.  Isn’t that what we’re here for?

There’s my latest self-analysis.  Thanks to digitalbloggers.com for the inspiration.

Don’t Let The Good Stuff Go Away


This is another “Post From The Past” that is very appropriate given that we’re approaching the end of the school year here in Ontario.  You and/or your students have been blogging all year.  Will you just abandon your efforts?  Or, will you make a copy of it to save, use as an example, email to parents, give to students to keep, or use for any other of a myriad of purposes?

BlogBooker is an awesome service.  It will take the entire contents of your blog (with a little work) and create a PDF file that you can tuck away or otherwise repurpose so that you don’t lose the effort that went into it’s creation.  Here from August 22, 2010 is my post “To do more with your blog“.

Hey, you might even want to turn it into “A Flipping Blog“!

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Yesterday, George Couros asked for a little input through a Twitter message.

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My first reaction what that this might be a step backward in the goal of integrating technology for students.  After all, if you have a blog, why would you want to revert to a newsletter format?  In its simplest format, it could be a paper document that’s sent home to parents.

But then, I started thinking.  There are a lot of reasons why it might be desirable to have a blog in newsletter format.  Some that immediately come to mind are:

  1. Not every parent has internet at home for any of a wide variety of reasons;
  2. The blog might be private with only student access for privacy concerns;
  3. Access to blogs might be blocked at school but the teacher blogs from home;
  4. The principal of the school wishes to have paper generated for whatever reason;
  5. The blog might be part of a project where a culminating document detailing everything is desired;
  6. The blog is reset for a new year or new unit or
  7. You just want a copy of your blog in another format …

Yes, upon further review, I can see where there may be reasons for a blog to be in a different format for a specific use.

I think that the other thing about a solution would be that it needs to be easily re-purposed by a teacher to the differing format.  Typically, blogs have considerable effort in their creation and who has the time for yet another creation?

I then thought about BlogBooker.  I had blogged about its use in the past here.  At that point, I was thinking about using it as a way to create a backup for a blog or a permanent record of thoughts.  I’ve actually used it to create a couple of backups of my entire blog.  It works very easily when I want a book of everything (including the graphics and pictures that I embed in posts) but would it do the trick on a more flexible basis?

The procedure is pretty easy.

  1. Export your blog content from your blog  (it’s in XML format but most people wouldn’t care or need to care about the format);
  2. Upload the content to Blogbooker;
  3. Wait a minute of two;
  4. Download your book in PDF format.

Conceivably that PDF could be filed away for posterity or printed if it absolutely had to be.

But, what about content of a shorter duration?  I never really paid close enough attention when I did the steps above to see if it was customizable.  So, I went through the process and actually paid attention this time.

Now, I use WordPress as my host and so went to my dashboard and the export tool.

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Well, I’ll be.  There are configuration options!  I can set a start and end date.  In terms of the content, I could choose just the posts or all content.  I’m thinking that just the posts would suit my needs best.  Click on the “Download Export File” button and it’s on my hard drive.  That was easy.  The only limitation that I could see was that the export was done month by month.  Probably not a big issue as the newsletter might well be a monthly one.

Now, it’s over to BlogBooker.

Step one is to let BlogBooker know what type of Blog this comes from.  It supports WordPress, Blogger, and LiveJournal.  That’s a good selection.  Then comes the WOW moment.  There are a huge collection of formatting options for the output.  The preferences are customizable for any purpose.  I elected NOT to use “Footnoted Links” because my blog entries have a great deal of links in them.  If the ultimate goal is to send it to a printer, then you’re not going to want each entry on a separate page, I hope.

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Give BlogBooker a few moments and voila!  There’s the nicely formatted book in PDF format that you can download or view right in your browser.  I really like the fact that I could customize further the start/finish dates of the publication and the images are intact.  I really like the concept and it was so simple to do.  Plus, the headers and footers put a nice finishing touch on the whole product.

It even includes pumpkin shirts!

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Thanks, George, for the question and the opportunity for me to revisit this very powerful application.  Thanks, also to Aviva and Peter for keeping the conversation going.

 

GIGO


The reference Garbage In, Garbage Out is a staple when teaching computer science.  It generately acknowledges that a processor or a processor might be considered as a black box where data goes in one side and information out the other.  The black box essentially contains the ability to do whatever it is programmed to do; the value of the whole process relies on a source for good data.

Note the excellently created graphic illustrating the process done by the graphics department of dougpete labs.

A good debugging process will include garbage data (nonsensical or testing the exceptional conditions) and having the logic or the processes handle the data appropriately.  This might be aborting or sending a message to the operator or some other action so that the process can be corrected, changes made and happiness ensues.  (or at least the program works properly)

Sometimes garbage gets through and unexpected results may happen.  This happened to me this past weekend.

On Sunday, the #ecoo13 committee was meeting at the venue in Niagara Falls and I knew that a 4.5 hour drive there and another 4.5 hour drive back wouldn’t give me the opportunity to blog on Sunday so I decided to do it Friday.  It was just a matter of scheduling it to appear on my blog at the regular 5am time and continuity would be ensured.

I wanted to do a review of the Hopscotch and so created the post.  One of the tools that I use for blogging on the Macintosh is Qumana.  So, I just blindly went ahead and wrote the post, scheduled it, and posted it.  Then, I had a D’oh!

Qumana was part of the black box process for me.  I’d had problems posting with it in the past and had forgotten.  It doesn’t post the time/date properly.  Now, what could go wrong?  Just change the time/date, right?

Bring on the Robots

If only it was that simple.  When I post to the blog, I actually have more going on in the black box process than simply posting.

  • First – DLVR.IT monitors the blog and sends a message to Twitter that there’s a new post;
  • Secondly – CanuckEduS monitors my blog and a bunch of other Canadian blogs.  The new post is noticed and an announcement posted to Twitter;
  • Thirdly – nick_chater uses IFTTT and then announces the new post;
  • Fourthly – WordPress sends out email messages to everyone who subscribes to the blog – hey, there’s a new post;
  • Fifthly – I have the announcement posted automatically to my Facebook timeline;
  • Sixthly – There are just good people that try to spread the word by retweeting my announcement of the new post!

Ack!  Realizing what I’d done immediately, I head into WordPress to change the scheduling manually.

I didn’t have a chance to save face.  The robots had followed their instructions to the letter.  I had fed them garbage and, by following the process, they had turned it into something embarrassing.  When you try to follow the announced link, it’s now broken!

Notice that the posted URL includes the date 1970/01/01!  Did they even have blogs back then?  It seems to me that the IBM 360 was king.  For the sake of eight characters, my garbage date had created a problem.  The robots working away feverishly in the black box had only served to amplify it.

My lesson was learned.  Now, I’m forced to try to determine the problem.  I know that I can write, schedule, and post directly to WordPress natively, with Scribefire, LiveWriter, and Blogio.  It’s just with Qumana.  It’s a shame because it had been such a great actor.  Of course, the first thing I do is check to make sure that I’ve got the latest revision.  Yes, I do.  Rats.

Fortunately, I have alternatives to use while I poke around and see if I can find a solution.

In the meantime, my apologies to those of you who read the announcement of the post only to find a broken link.  The good news is that it was released for public viewing properly this morning!  Thanks for reading.

 

The LifeBlood of any Blog…


…is the interaction with those who read the content.

With this blog, you might be reading it online and you might also be reading a copy that’s mailed to you because you have subscribed to it.  Either way, I really appreciate that you take the time to take a look at the things that I write about.  I recognize that, in the big scheme of things, my ramblings are pretty small potatoes and I’m good with that.  It’s just a chance for me to share what I’m thinking and it’s so rewarding to see folks interact by reply, or liking, or sharing on Twitter, Google +, or Facebook.

Analytics don’t necessarily drive things for me – it’s the interactions.

Recently, it’s been the interactions that have me concerned.  Not the interactions from you good folks but the interactions from people I don’t know.

There’s a common practice that people come along and “Like” a blog post.  I’ve enabled that as a quick way for the good folks to say “Hey, I, well, liked it”.  But, if you look at the Gravatars from the people that are “liking” it, some of them are not educators.  I’m guessing that it’s a modern equivalent of link spamming.  They’re hoping that you click their Gravatar and going to their website where who know what you’ll find.  I hope that you’re not doing this.

The second thing that I’m seeing recently is a big upturn in people that are subscribing to the blog to get the content emailed to them every morning.  When I look at the email addresses, they’re sort of non-descript names usually attached to a Hotmail account.  I’m at a loss to come up with a reason why they would do that.  All that it serves to do is let them know that this blog is alive and well.

WordPress

I got a whack of both this morning.  The “Likes” aren’t even of the current post.  So, I decided to look at the WordPress support database and see if I was the only one.

Somehow, it was comforting to know that I’m not.  Others are discovering and guessing much along the same lines as me.

So, what’s a blogger to do?  I could turn off the features but that adversely affects people that would use it effectively.  To do so would be to admit defeat.

Fortunately, I don’t think you can see the list of people that subscribe to the blog.  But, you can see the “Likes”.  I would suggest that you either ignore them or hover your cursor over them and look at the name that appears in the popup and think seriously before you click.

If anyone has any more detailed or insightful thoughts about this matter, please chime in.

Welcome to the internet.