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Stand Up Eight » General
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Archive for the 'General' Category

Drupal and Joomla!

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Picking a content management system to manage a web site has proven to be a rather complicated task. We moved up and down the chain of complexity, trying very powerful (and complicated) tools like Bricolage and experimenting with very simple PHP scripts that render a directories’ contents into an auto-generated list of URLs. All of this in an attempt to find the sweet spot for content owners to be able to upload their information to the web without having to be computer programmers to manage the process.

Last year I started experimenting pretty heavily with Drupal and was quite impressed. I set up a site for our department at work and had things moving along nicely. When I started doing some initial training for end users, however, it became evident that the flexibility of Drupal was actually proving to be a detriment to new users. When you add content to Drupal, for example, you can specify the URL path to be whatever you want. For someone who knows what they are doing, this is powerful and welcome. For someone who is not familiar with the implications of changes to this path for those browsing the site, it is too much control. On many levels, users with access to the backend system have opportunities to cause trouble.

I therefore started playing with Joomla!. There are things I miss about Drupal on the developer side, but from the end user side there are a couple of things that sold me on the tool:

  1. A front-end interface that lets content owners access the content via the same interface they read it in. This has proven to be more intuitive for most users.
  2. A more advanced design/development community. There are a number of commercial options for purchasing professional templates, which aids in easing the learning curve when getting started. There are templates for Drupal, but with few exceptions they tend to look like Drupal sites, which isn’t what we were looking for.

I don’t like Joomlas method (or lack thereof) of generating sensical URLs. It requires a plug-in that requires quite a bit of setup on a large site to configure correctly.

Anyway, it wasn’t a case of one being all good and one being all bad, we simply had a set of requirements that were better met by Joomla!

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Implications of Katrina for education

Tuesday, September 13th, 2005

In the aftermath of Katrina, there have been all too many failures evident. It has been encouraging, however, to see the response of the higher education community to those faculty and students who were displaced by the disaster. While much of the effort has been to provide access to traditional brick and mortar facilities, I am also encouraged to see the extension of access to distance education programs to not only those displaced, but to those who are involved in the relief efforts. I know at my institution, UNC Charlotte, we are working to pull together course offerings for exactly that purpose. The sense of community is always stronger after a disaster, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.

London bombings

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

Seeing what’s happening in London leaves me at a loss for words. My heart goes out to those who are suffering as a result of this horrible act.

MIgration nearly complete

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

I have once again decided to change the location of this weblog. I recently moved my personal site over to Dreamhost’s servers and decided to move this one as well. I’m using WordPress, which I am quite impressed with thus far. Anyway, I’m just about ready to release it into the wild (whatever that means…).

A kinder, gentler Stand Up Eight…

Friday, June 24th, 2005

So here I am making an attempt at yet another iteration of this weblog. This time I’m moving the hosting of the weblog to my own ISP as opposed to using the servers at the campus where I work. I feel more comfortable doing it this way because this weblog has always been a reflection of my personal and professional views, and it never felt quite right hosting such a vehicle on a work server.

Anyway, I’ll be working to import some of my old content here, but for now I’m somewhat refreshed by the blank slate before me.

I heart Thunderbird

Tuesday, March 15th, 2005


I’ve known about Thunderbird for a while now, but I never felt the urge to try it out until today. I’m glad I finally did. I love the integration of email accounts and RSS feeds, and it handles message features such as return receipts and html messages more elegantly than Apple Mail or Entourage did. I’m hooked.

The virus of comment spam

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

While there are many reasons for my recent lack of posts, it occurred to me while discussing my on-campus weblog with a colleague that it was only after I disabled comments (due to overwhelming amounts of comment spam) that my posts dwindled down to near non-existence. I believe that for some people posting to a weblog is a one-way endeavor–a place to hold their thoughts/notes/links. While I used to use my weblog as a place to keep track of URLs that I wanted to research later, I now use Furl and del.icio.us for that purpose, so those links no longer show up on my weblogs.

I’ve recently switched platforms and am now using b2evolution. The interface is too busy for my taste, but I’m trying to get used to it. One of the most important things we’re trying to accomplish is a weblog platform that will scale enough to allow campus wide use by students and faculty. I’ll post thoughts about the pros and cons of this experiment here as they occur to me.

Coming up for air

Monday, January 24th, 2005

I’ll soon be migrating to another weblog platform (likely b2e) that will hopefully allow more control over the comment and trackback spam that has been the downfall of this environment (for me). Without the ability to comment, weblogs become a much narrower communication channel. I don’t have time to clean up the garbage, so I ultimately just turned commenting off. It wasn’t long after that that my posting became even more infrequent than it was before.

Anyway, I’ll try to manage the migration as well as I can. I’ll post my notes here as I go.

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