Hosting

 

Nutella

Where did January go? 

Whoosh – it’s over month now, since I wrote anything on here. I’m sorry if you follow this avidly ;-(

My Moodle installations are hosting by Siteground in America. I’d rather have a friendlier host and a more user-friendly interface, but let’s face it, once you start messing about behind the front pages of web sites and VLEs* they all tend to be unfriendly for a non-technical bod like me.

I have three Moodle installations at present at http://eduvel.org.uk, two are sub-domains of the older Moodle 1.9 (I also have Moodle 2 and Moodle 2.3) and until about ten days ago they worked fabulously. There are drawbacks to using a server in the States, but as far as my requirements go – it’s all worked well.

However, Siteground changed their server address last month and I haven’t been able to get onto my sites since then.

They had said that the transfer from one server to another wouldn’t be a problem:

1) We are happy to inform you that the shared hosting service you are using will be upgraded to a conceptually new hardware configuration. […]

2) All these improvements will result in better loading speed for your website.[…]

3) This will not result in any downtime, but you and some people who have recently visited your website at the old IP location may experience problems accessing it for some time after the change due to IP data cache at their local Internet providers.

4) Once the files are transferred, your account will be assigned its final new IP, but this time the change will not result in any DNS cache problems, as we will set up your domain name and we will redirect any traffic coming to the transitional IP used during the process to your final one.

So I waited until this week and I still couldn’t get on!

So I’ve wasted lots of time today sorting it out.

I suspect that Siteground are on the West Coast, so replies to emails come overnight – delaying the process somewhat. Luckily, my domain name hosts 1and1 are much quicker off the mark.

1and1 host my now defunct Village-eLearning Consultancy web site and over the years I’ve bought several domain names through them. It’s easier then when renewal time comes along to just say yes to the one company, rather than lots. However, this does mean that I have to go through the (to me) nervous process of re-directing the domain via DNS settings. Siteground had told me that despite the notes above, I had to change these manually. Grrr.

Well, I couldn’t see any of my sites on the 1and1 dashboard – they’ve changed the dashboard since I needed to do anything like this – so I had to email their support team. There was a problem with the email address I was using, so I eventually had to ring them.

The lady I spoke to – Indian I suspect – was very competent, very patient and very helpful. It took me very little time to change the DNS settings once I knew where they were. And, despite the promised wait of 24 hours, I’m already back using my Moodle pages. Whoo ooo.

Moral? Don’t be impatient, read all of the little tabs and links on a dashboard and don’t trust ‘trust us’ notices from Siteground. ;-(

*Virtual Learning Environment – VLE. Moodle is an example of such a thing.

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iTunes update

screenshot of iTunes pageMy iTunes has updated twice in as many recent weeks. Unfortunately, as far as I’m concerned neither update has improved my listening experience.

I currently have 254 Albums and over the years I have come to know where to find each one in ‘album’ view – I have never liked the ‘song’ or ‘artist’ view.

Furthermore, I tend to have my MacBook Pro screen resolution set at 1152×720 because that has less strain on my eyes.  By default therefore, the iTunes album-icons are huge but until the recent updates, there was a tiny slider (bottom right of the iTunes screen) that I could adjust to reduce the icon size – which made scrolling through my collection quite a breeze.

However, the slider has now gone and there is no way to change the icon size in Tunes. Why?

It’s a question I asked at the Apple Store in the Trafford Centre the other day and no one there could answer.

The update seems to have been to introduce ‘Up Next’ which as far as I can see is something that basically Guilds the Lily. I’ve yet to see a reason for me to use ‘Up Next’ (I already have plenty of Playlists) so, had the icon-size slider still been there, the update wouldn’t have irritated me this much. Another change for change’s sake perhaps.

So Apple. Why?

Brooklands

This post is an extended version of that published by me on the TechDis Ambassadors Posterous Space


picture of a well-sprutted potato

Mr. Potato

I recently visited Brooklands College in deepest Surrey.

The supported learning team there is working on one of the JISC TechDis Ambassador programmes and my role for the day was to observe, report and deliver a little training.

The department action plan’s main aim is for the team to make better and more effective use of the (Blackboard) VLE and our prime objective for the afternoon training was to explore uses and tools for creating and editing audio. No problem.

Except:

Except I’d forgotten to ask if they had any microphones. I often carry my own 15 sets of ‘Pound Shop’ Headphone/Mics with me, but on overnight stays like this (I was elsewhere the day before) my suitcase and my backpack are so crammed full that I’m unable to fit my Mics in. Hey ho.

The college had very kindly downloaded Audacity for us, so I knew we would all be able edit audio – but the trainer-machine was as useless to me for traditional audio creation as all the other machines (no Mics remember?).  My own PC laptop’s Mic is currently playing silly beggars too so I demonstrated www.vocaroo.com via my MacBook Pro. I showed the interface on the trainer-machine (connected to the projector) and then went through the (very easy) audio creation motions on the Mac. Ditto, editing with Audacity. Despite being a bit Heath Robinson, this all seemed to work.

During this part of the session we explored:

As ways of creating audio files.

Then I introduced MyStudyBar as a means of creating audio by using Text-to-Speech (TTS) and BANG – they were blown away.

Everything on MyStudyBar (nearly) was taken up, played with, discussed and copied for immediate use by staff and learners. Wow, it was amazing just how our colleagues took to this and how they came up with creative ideas for use.

We ended up with discussing ways that the learners could create their own audio using any of the tools we’ve discussed and submitting it via – any of various ways. Also of showing learners pieces of text in PowerPoint and the having the text read to them (insert audio).

Phew.

No sound on my MacBook Pro

Picture of a Sound Mirror, with John Rousell

I’m in the middle of a very busy period of work right now and one of the things that helps to save my sanity during lonely nights in a Travelodge is the ability to listen to music or watch DVDs on my laptop.  My laptop is a 15″ MacBook Pro and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.  However, it does have its idiosyncrasies! Idiosyncrasies that often make we want to just chuck it out of the window.

At this moment in time, I cannot load the latest copy of Microsoft Office onto the laptop because it simply won’t read the (official, paid for) DVD. It will however (fingers crossed) read other DVDs so that problem is on the back shelf until I can get to one of the ‘local’ Apple Stores (all an hours drive away).

A much more immediate problem appeared recently.

As I travelled back from Maidenhead last Friday, I continued to work on some documents as I listened to music on my headphones. So far, so normal. Then this weekend, as I worked on my previous blog post, I wished to listen to music without the headphones but no sound would come out of the laptop. I tried everything I knew to cure the problem but without success. So it was ‘on to the Internet’ …

I found this post was probably the most technically correct, but the solution didn’t work for me. However, the author did lead me to this forum, where the cure was really found. My worry about this solution though (it DID work) is twofold:

  1. A) – the forum thread started back in 2006 (so it’s not a new problem – come on Apple, get your finger out) and
  2. B) – a matchstick! Really? A £1,300 laptop has to be prodded with a matchstick!!! Grrr.

Anyway, many thanks to everyone who bothers to post solutions to techie problems on the internet. You are the salt of the earth. Thank you.

#Advent #SugSnips

https://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8201/8162101242_dae954feae.jpgSome readers may remember the series of #SugSnip tweets I posted to Twitter every day of 2011.

I’d started these postings on 1st January 2011 (see my 1st #SugSnip blog post) and they culminated in a publication on ISSUU. The publication had a foreword by James Clay and this year, I am taking a leaf from his book (so to speak) and copying his idea of daily  posts throughout #Advent. In my case I’ll run right through the month.

 – See James’ 2011 musical advent calendar.
– Also watch
his 2012 cinematic calendar as it unfolds this year.

Please read on (beneath the ISSUU book) to learn more about my series of #Advent #SugSnips 



My thanks once again to http://cpwilson.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/embedding-issuu/


I’ve toyed with the idea of delivering #SugSnips again for quite a while as I’ve missed the research involved, it’s been a sort of hobby for me. However, I wanted to present the information in a different way. My first thought was to create a Google Presentation and to post the link to one slide per day. However, this turned out not to be as easy as I’d first thought. Although each slide had a different link the whole presentation was viewable – so not much use for a daily ‘reveal’.

Each of this month’s #Advent #SugSnips has therefore been created as a separate presentation. I had to use Google Chrome to be able to capture each presentation URL (rather than the ‘edit’ URL) but this seems to work OK. You tell me?

I’m also using bit.ly again to create the shortened URLs of this link, reducing it from 114 characters to just 13!

Also like before, because it was the most reliable during 2011, I’m using HootSuite to schedule my Tweets. This time I am also copying the daily posting to Facebook.

Creating the presentations hasn’t been straightforward, but I’ll log that journey later this month. Suffice to say I won’t be recommending the method I’ve used for easy distribution.

I hope you enjoy reading these #SugSnips. I will publish the entire 31 slides as a single presentation in January, along with the bitly bundle. Enjoy.

Assistive Technology

I’ve just returned from delivering three 90 minutes sessions on Assistive Technology.

Despite its importance for many learners, I’ve always been surprised by the lengths that some teaching staff will go to, to avoid Assistive Technology training sessions. However, two of the three sessions I delivered today were well oversubscribed with almost 30 in each; the third had a credible dozen in attendance.

So well done Abingdon Witney College, you made my day.

I’d been invited to attend the college’s staff training day by the delightful Ellen Lessner. It was my first visit to Abingdon (hopefully not my last) and although marred by a few technical problems, it was a great day. I had hoped to start off by showing the SimDis website and then allowing those attending some time to explore the simulations on offer. However, the shockwave plugin could not be updated by anyone without ‘admin’ rights, so staff were unable to explore the site. The techie people told me that there was some hold up or other with their request to Adobe. Hey ho.

So, instead we explored http://wordle.net (see previous post – https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/wordle/), which many thought they would find useful. Then Victoria, a talented member of staff, showed Inspiration (http://www.inspiration.com/) to each group and allowed them chance to explore its basic possibilities.

Then finally, I introduced MyStudyBar.

Ellen had always wanted her colleagues to explore the potential for this collection of FREE software, but had never been able to make it work in the college until Windows 7 was installed. Despite the numbers, we only had 8 USB sticks as the 8 I’d brought with me were quickly quarantined by the very keen virus protection software (it didn’t just quarantine the file – it deleted it!). Anyway, we still managed to explore MyStudyBar’s potential in groups of three or four.

It was disappointing not to be able to experience the delights of the TechDis Voices, which have been downloaded but not yet deployed. These two new voices are better for most learners than Microsoft Anna and as MyStudyBar provides two text-to-speech software items, they would have been given every chance of an airing. Hopefully, learners will shortly have an opportunity to experience the new voices if they are deployed sooner rather than later.

I think that everyone enjoyed most of their session and suspect that each person took at least one thing away with them for further exploration or immediate use.

Thank you to everyone at Abingdon Witney College for your interest in the sessions and to Ellen for her kind and generous hospitality.

ISSUU – SugSnips

Some readers will remember my previous SugSnip posts.

Well, I have now published all of the 400 #SugSnip ‘tweets’ in book form on ISSUU, the digital publishing platform.

I’d originally tried to author the book via the Amazon Kindle website, but to no avail. The instructions seemed clear enough but as it turns out, were too demanding for the technology I had to present. Most of the content consists of tweets, with a link to a collection (a collation really) of other links supporting and expanding the #SugSnip link. I just couldn’t see how this would work on a Kindle book (and it didn’t).

So I set it aside and got on with my life.

Just the other day though, I got an email from ISSUU reminding me of their presence and, given a two hour drive from Nottingham this week, I got to thinking about how the book would look and feel on ISSUU. Well, it looks ok and as a bonus, all of the #SugSnip links work.

For example: Tweet 195 on page 35, about Levi Jackets, still has the Bitly bundle https://bitly.com/bundles/dsugden/R available for viewers to read.

Please let me know what you think.

Other info from http://cpwilson.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/embedding-issuu/ – with thanks.