It’s In Their Hands Now

I called Curtin to confirm that they had received my application and apparently they had, but it was sitting on a pile of paperwork untouched. After convincing them that it was indeed important (and had to get to the degree co-ordinator for advanced standing approval before the next study period began…), I think it should have been passed on to Matt for review/approval. He should receive it early next week hopefully.

Ahhh bureaucracy, how we love you!

Now I just have to wait and hear from Matt, hopefully to get the good news that I can have 12 units of approved advanced standing into the degree!

You Never Learn Until It’s Too Late

Everyone — please back up your files regularly!

I have been stupid enough to be running my machine over the last couple of years without keeping regular backups of my information. The other night, my hard drive failed, and it appears that I may have lost a lot of the information which I had on there, including some financial details, personal photos, volumes and volumes of personal documents and notes, plus a large amount of work which wasn’t stored anywhere else except on my machine.

I am working on a Sony VAIO laptop as my main system at the moment, so I am now planning for the imminent purchase of a new desktop system, I think will be the deciding factor in me getting around to arranging it all. For those interested, I’m going to keep records on the entire process, starting…

Step 1: I flipped over my laptop and unscrewed all the screws I could see (later I realised that was a little excessive, but anyway…). I then turned it back the other way and lifted off the wrist-pad, where the touchpad lives. Under here, I located the hard drive, and carefully removed another screw (bottom-left corner when looking from above), and then removed the drive. I took off the mounting rails either side of the drive and transferred them onto the new drive which I purchase (exactly the same one – 20GB). From there, I put the drive back in, screwed the corner screw back in, replaced the wrist-pad and then screwed all the screws into the back again. I then put it back on it’s docking station (with CD drive) and started it up with the Windows 2000 startup CD. Then off we go with installing everything from scratch.

Pleeeaassee… let me be able to read the drive which I have now removed from my laptop. I have arranged to get the adapter required so that I can mount the 2.5″ laptop drive in a standard 3.5″ desktop disk bay. That will then allow me to attempt to access the drive’s contents from my old desktop computer (which I’ll have to take out of mothballs for the occassion!). I’ll post updates regarding my progress, but I hate to say that I am not holding my breath about getting anything off the drive, not after hearing the faint tinkle of what sounds like the drive head flopping around inside the drive…

First Notes On My Search System

View an Acrobat PDF document (13.6Kb) with more information regarding the search system

I wanted to get some information out here so that people could see what I am working on, and indeed what is running this site’s search facility. The icon to the right will take you to a PDF document (13.6Kb) which gives some more details about the approximate process flow of the search supplements, as well as a database schema of what’s running the best bets, variants and related terms.

Another O’Reilly Article On The Table!

I’ve been emailed by the author of an upcoming O’Reilly article for techo’s regarding my work with a more complete search system. He wants to discuss my integration of Best Bets, a controlled vocabulary and a normal, keyword-based search engine. There’s not really a lot to say right now, but I’ve emailed him back saying that I am definitely interested, so we’ll see what happens.

Interest From SearchLoggers Group

I’ve had some initial interest from some of the other members of the searchloggers group in the work that I am doing with the search system on this site. The integration of a controlled vocabulary, best bets and a stand-aloone search engine backend appears to be of interest to others as well ๐Ÿ™‚

My hope is that this can be developed into a stand-alone product that could be wrapped around nearly any search system, simply adding to the functionality of said search system. So far things are looking good, but only really for something written in PHP. I would need to add other options for systems written in Perl, C etc.

In the near future, I will be posting database schemas, some notes on implementation and other bits and pieces about how I am attacking the whole process. Keep an eye on things if you are interested ๐Ÿ™‚

Who’s The Idiot?

Well, me apparently. Purely by chance, I found out that the postage charge for a local letter here has gone up to 50c per letter. I clicked that I mailed in my application for enrollment using a 45c stamp that I still had, apparently from before they changed the rate!!!

I don’t know for sure if this means that my application hasn’t got there yet, so I emailed the guy who is supposed to be looking at my advanced standing (Matt), but he says that he hasn’t received it yet.

Now I have emailed LSN/CEA/OLA@Curtin to find out if it made it to Curtin at all, but who ever knows with that place – I’ve worked there, and I know how easy it is for mail (etc!) to go missing and never be seen again. *Fingers Crossed!*

webpad 2.1 Underway

I have started the planning/initial development on version 2.1 of webpad. This will be mainly a bug-fix and consolidation release, while also bringing webpad up to a point where it will operate with the new default settings on PHP installs.

Once webpad 2.1 is released successfully, work on v3.0 will begin shortly thereafter, which will be a major code-revision, giving webpad a much more stable backend and coding structure, as well as a number of new features to improve its functionality and usefulness as a web-based text editor. I am also considering splitting the code-base into a “Personal Edition” and “Enterprise Edition” (names not finalised!) which would allow me to ficus each version on either single or multi-user environments (respectively). This would also most likely introduce a pricing structure for the Enterprise Edition (Personal Edition will remain free for the taking). I’ll keep you all up to date.

Welcome To The Hive

OLA uses a product called “The Hive“, which is produced by a local, Perth company called HarvestRoad. The Hive manages the content and delivery of all online courses from OLA, so I will be interested to see how successfully it manages to do this. I know from experience that managing an online course isn’t particularly easy to do well.

When I worked at Curtin Uni, I worked in one of the many divisions which were pursuing online education as a feasible option. The area that I worked in (SMEC) actually delivered all of their postgraduate degrees in an entirely online fashion. We actually ended up using straight, plain old HTML because we needed to get everything on CD-ROM as well as the ‘net, and it turned out to be easier that way. It was an interesting time and taught me some good stuff about working with the limitations of certain technology, dependant on your users.

I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on my experiences within the Hive ๐Ÿ™‚ (which is now called the HarvestRoad LCMS for those interested).

So — PortaBlosx

I was thinking, blosxom is very cool, but I’d like to be able to do a few things in regards to getting something on my blog when I am out and about;

  1. Be able to post from anywhere (i.e. I want a web-based interface of some sort)
  2. Be able to post from my Palm (I built AvantBlog for this reason, why not have AvantBlosx? ๐Ÿ™‚ )
  3. A nifty little dialog-thingo allowing me to make quick posts (very similar to the Palm version) would be nice as well, something I could bookmarklet easily.

So I had a look around, and the first one appears to be pretty much available already, care of PHPetal. After that tho, there doesn’t appear to be a simple, clean interface available that could be hacked to use on Palm and as a simple little bookmarklet dialog.

My idea is basically to just provide the person with a very simple interface, at this stage it would consist of a select box containing a recursed listing of their blog directories, and a textarea where they could enter their post. As per blosxom, the first line would be used as the title, and I would either make up a filename based on the title, or just generate one from a timestamp.

What do you reckon?

PHPetal is pretty cool

I think (can’t remember already – it’s been a long day!) I found this one care of a lead from the blosxom mailing list, but here’s a cool, web-based application which operates very similarly to the “PortaBlosx” idea that I am still thinking of working on. It’s called PHPetal and basically just provides a one-page interface to posting to your blosxom-powered blog. It looks pretty funky, although it’s a bit “heavy” for converting to a Palm version I reckon, so I will keep thinking about my own, simple version.

And Then It Was Live!

Yes, I finally got my new site live, and it all appears to be working, including the new and fancy, blosxom-driven “Notes” section.

This has taken quite a bit of work to get live, but I am quite happy with the way that things have turned out. The main addition(s) that I want to make at this stage are writebacks on my Notes section, so that I can hear what you guys out there have to say about things, rather than this being a 1-way only information device ๐Ÿ™‚

Keep an eye out for the ability to comment on my postings here in the nearish future (hopefully!). When I get it working, it should also allow for trackbacks, so you can register comments on my posts on your own blogs if you like

Praise Be To Matt

Wow – I wasn’t expecting that. Unless it was a typo of some sort, this is what Matt had to say about my enrollment in the BArts(Net Studies);

I am the person who assesses these ๐Ÿ™‚ – basically, I’d be looking at 8 units (out of 24) advanced standing – how does that sound?

and I was thinking – “bugger, that’s less than I was hoping for, so I trudged along to read the next message which said…

Just remembered – since you have units at Curtin already…12 units (which is the maximum I can give)…

and now, funnily enough, I have a very large smile on my face! This is excellent! With only 12 units remaining, I might still be able to finish by the end of 2004!

Changes are afoot

I am re-writing a large proportion of the code which runs RESTxom, to make it more portable and reliable. Also trying to make sure that *everything* works properly, rather than getting any nasty surprises down the line!

Once this is done properly, then RESTments should be pretty simple(?) to add in.

Slowly, slowly…

I am making progress on the new site. It is taking longer than I had hoped, but that is mostly because I actually took the time to enjoy my holiday, rather than spending the whole thing working on this ๐Ÿ™‚

I am currently working on the Services section, which will include details about all of the things that I can do for clients, including some “elevator-pitch” style descriptions of what some of the things mean, since it’s likely that they will be new concepts for a lot of people I deal with. I am going to be trying to simplify things as much as possible with the descriptions, and provide examples or diagrams if at all possible!

It’s times like these that I wish CELIA was active already and filled with useful information and resources, then my job would be simple ๐Ÿ™‚

More Projects To Come

The main 2 sections of the site to be completed are the projects (still have some micro-sites to put together here) and the search system. I will also need to bring across the copyright info from the old site, but that will largely be copy/paste. The search system will be the most interesting part to develop, and I have some nice plans for it as well – We’ll see what I can do as far as combining 2 XML documents and an XSLT together (server-side using PHP of course!) to create the results.

The projects really could use a little work, but I just don’t have time to work on them right now. Once the site is live, I will be working on RESTments again to get that going, and then when that is up, the projects will all receive a make-over to ensure that they work with PHP’s register_globals off and magic_quotes_gpc off as well. I will also eventually get to working on new versions of webpad (which I have some great plans for) and AvantBlog (want to make a few versions, so that there is one for each major type if possible.

So now, with no other external contracts to take up my time, it is just a matter of not falling asleep and then all I have to do is my website, should mean that it’s up within a week or 2.

Thankyou Matthew Allen

So far I have been dealing with Matthew Allen, the Coordinator for Internet Studies at Curtin Uni, who has been surprisingly helpful.

One thing that has really blown me away has been his willingness to suggest that I enrol via Open Learning Australia, which appears to be a much better method of study for me (assuming that I can maintain my own discipline), given that I currently work full time.

I have had to look again at what I wanted to do, because my previous enrolment attempt was unsuccessful. This is because all of the school-leavers get first option at the positions being offered, and they appear to have filled them all this year, so my application wasn’t even really considered. This left me with no enrolment, even though that’s what I had planned on doing. Enrolling through OLA allows me to start studying, without having to jump through the normal University hoops of enrolment. At OLA, I just sign up for the degree ($100), and then start studying units at my own pace.

This brings me to the next cool thing with OLA – the study periods. OLA works on 4 study periods, rather than the normal Uni-year of only 2 semesters. This means that if (theoretically,) I could keep up the pace of 2 units per study period (which I don’t think I can), then I would be able to complete the remainder of my 3 year degree (minus advanced standing) in about 2 years! Apart from this, it just means that you are much closer to being able to study at your own pace, since you have more control over your start-times and the time of year that you study — I like it.

I am in the final stages of completing my application for advanced standing, which will go along with my application for entry into the degree at Curtin, via OLA. Once that is done, I can hopefully get an idea of the number of units that I can “skip” when I start study, and know where to start with things. My official target is 9 units ๐Ÿ™‚

Now Working on RESTy Archives

I seem to have sorted out the main code for making blosxom at least pretend to be RESTy, now I am working on the archives system to clean that up. It is largely based on the main code, but needs to take into account the “forced” /archives/ directory when working out relative paths and stuff like that.

Once this is complete, I will then start working on creating some templates for the actual site (coverting my Visio wireframes into real XHTML!).

RESTxom Now Has RESTy Archives

I have made it so that the /archives/ directory, from the root of the blog, houses all of the archives for the entire blog, organised by date. It simply parses the dates and then requests the details from blosxom. To sort out the issues related to relative vs. absolute references, I have added in # # #URL# # # (actually no spaces between any of the #’s) to the story template, which is replaced by my scripts with the root of the blog-tree when displaying it.

The only problem with this system at the moment is that I don’t think it’s actually passing the internal page anchor (after the #) when it displays the page, so it might not link down on the page to the specific post… I will have to experiment with this some more.

UPDATED: (about 3 seconds later) — it does load the correct place in the page, so it’s all good!

Good idea for the calendar in the archives…

Just had a good idea, it’d be nice to have the calendar display the month which the current (requested) post was made in. So if I just go directly to /archives/2003/12/* then it would display the month of December, 2003 in the calendar.

Shouldn’t be a hard modification to make, and I only have to make it to the archive processing script – so should be easy. I’ll add it before the site goes live.