Posts in 2007


No sooner have I blogged about finely tuned antennae than I see that the FeedForward team have released a version for people to have a look at. FeedForward is described as: FeedForward is a personal aggregator (or possibly a personal information environment...) that integrates inputs and services from both the academic sector and wider world to support common information workflows involving phases of scanning, selecting and organising, tagging and republishing.

Finely tuned antennae

The discovery to delivery hook-line has been used for a while to describe a goal of those information services which support the academic researcher. The challenge to academic libraries, national information services etc. has been to support the researcher from the moment they begin the process of searching to the delivery of the digital or physical artefact which satisfies their enquiry. Lately, I've been thinking about discovery to delivery, wondering why it just doesn't quite work for me.

A lick of paint for the BBC homepage

The BBC are 'widgetising' their home page see the beta here. It's quite slick, with a liberal sprinkling of Ajax user-interface decoration. It introduces a greater degree of 'personalisation' and 'localisation'. When I visited the page, I duly entered my postcode, but I couldn't really see a difference to the page after 'localising' it - except for the 'weather widget' which would be the first thing I'd remove any way if I started using this page for real.

Amazon Simple DB

Correction: In a comment, Justin Crites points out, correctly, that Simple DB does not offer 'relational' database functionality, in the sense that it is not an RDBMS. While this is true, I think Simple DB clearly offers functionality which many people get, perhaps inappropriately, from a relational database system. Amazon continue to expand their excellent infrastructure web services. Simple DB - relational databases in the cloud. I'm definitely going to have a look at this - clustering/replicating databases for resilience and performance was extraordinarily difficult when I was developing and supporting enterprise systems a couple of years ago.

Repositories get my vote

Having attended the CRIG Unconference last week, I think that it delivered much that was interesting and valuable. I look forward to the results of the synthesis of the many contributions from the delegates. Although there was just one formal presentation, the volume of content was still considerable, as just about everyone actively contributed something. The final analysis will have to demonstrate whether or not the quality of the content has been good enough to be useful.

Unconferencing the CRIG and browsable podcasts

David Flanders and I share an interest in the notion of the 'unconference', so I'm pleased to be participating in the CRIG Unconference which David and the 'WoCRIG' team has organised. David introduces the idea of the unconference thus: An un-conference is a combination of the best parts of a conference (face-to-face discussions generating new ideas, passionate debates and genuine information exchange) with all the PowerPoint stripped out. The agenda is set by the attendees on the day in a very simple and direct way - there is no signing up for predetermined break-out sessions and no sitting through interminable PowerPoint presentations.

Defending your brand in Facebook

The strange excitement in some parts of the HE sector around Facebook continues apace. Apparently, it is now possible to create a page for an organisation rather than for an individual. This is of course creating a stir, with a rush to claim pages. Kind of like internet domain registering but without the regulatory framework. There's a long comment thread over on Brian's blog with several points of view on this.

Not a unicorn, nor Switzerland neither

I've just listened to a podcast of David Heinemeier Hansson's keynote at RailsConf 2007 (which actually took place back in May of this year). David describes the changes and new features being introduced into Rails 2.0. Firstly, he is at pains to point out that Rails 2.0 will not represent a radical change, or a complete re-write. Also, 95% of what will constitute Rails 2.0's new features are already available in the bleeding edge EdgeRails and are being actively used.

Web hosting recommendations?

Caveat: there follows a bit of a moan about some poor service - but if you can't have an occasional moan on your own blog.... who know, maybe even the service I'm moaning about has people who monitor for this sort of thing! I've been using the same web-hosting supplier, Site5, for a number of years. Site5 was a good fit for me as it offered a good range of development tools and more access (SSH/SFTP) to the server than was commonly allowed by web-hosts at the time.

The selfish application

Some time ago, several of my friends in Facebook installed the 'MyQuestions' application: this application allows the user to pose a question and invite answers from their friends. Significantly, in order to answer a question the friend must, in turn, install the application. I was that friend. Since installing the application I haven't intentionally used it to pose any new questions myself. However, it seems I have posed a question - on installation the application is set to ask a question, any question, in order to be seen by my friends.