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Stand Up Eight » 2005 » July
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Archive for July, 2005

OSX screen saver as message board

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

I’ve just finished the initial setup of a new message board system for the building in which I work. I used Quartz Composer to create a new RSS-based screen saver and subscribed to a weblog (created in WordPress) that was created solely for this purpose.

We purchased two relatively inexpensive LCD displays and our handy classroom tech team mounted them in the entrance area.

One of the initial problems we had was the fact that the screen saver doesn’t refresh the content until it is re-launched. I initially tried to put a refresh command into the Quartz document itself, but I’m not a programmer and couldn’t figure out how to do it. I discovered that if you stop and start the screen saver, it immediately refreshes the content. I should probably note that the content is actually updated in the background every 30 minutes (or by whatever schedule you’ve set up in Safari’s RSS preferences). Therefore, I created an Automator script that kills the screen saver process, relaunches it, waits another 30 min, then runs again.

Now it refreshes, but the screen flickers when the screen saver starts again.

I ended up going down a totally different path:

  • created AppleScript that quits the screen saver app, waits 2 seconds, then launches the screen saver app again
  • created a crontab entry to launch the AppleScript every 31 minutes

This is still an ugly hack. Does anyone have an idea of how to refresh the screen saver more elegantly?

(BTW, if anyone is interested, I can post pictures of the setup and any of the files that would be helpful.)

Conditional RSS

Saturday, July 9th, 2005

I always seem to be most creative when I don’t know what I’m talking about, so here goes…

What if you were to utilize the subscription capabilities of RSS and combine them with some mechanism to allow people to create a unique/variable path among a range of choices?

A couple of ways this might be implemented:

Less complicated: What if you had a “word of the day” sort of feed that allowed the subscriber to begin with WORD 1 whenever they subscribed? The next day, they get WORD 2, while their associate, who subscribes a day later, gets WORD 1, and so on…

More complicated: What if, instead of simple vocabulary, the daily feed were components of a tutorial? Then, at the end of a concept, what if the entry for that day included a quick assessment that could be “submitted” from within the feed? In addition to immediate feedback (redirected to a web page?), what if the quality/correctness/etc. of the answer dictated what post the subscriber received the next day?

I know that it is probably difficult to accomplish while maintaining RSS code that is clean enough to validate, but shouldn’t there be a way to make it happen?

From an instructional perspective, are there types of knowledge/experience/practice that would be well-suited to this sort of consistent delivery of small chunks of…whatever?

The idea occured to me as I was thinking about RSS, but couldn’t the same functionality be accomplished with email?

I can’t quite tell if this idea has any merit at all, but it feels like it’s almost something…

I’d love to see others’ ideas about how something like this could be utilized to piggyback on the ever-increasing infrastructure behind social software like weblogs, wikis, etc.

Finally, over the past week it has occured to me that media files could be delivered as a part of this process, potentially in two directions, using the delayed delivery capabilities of podcasting. I get a recording of today’s French lesson and it is accompanied by a voice recorder widget that allows me to record my practice or my answer and send it to someone who can listen to it (in context?) and help me to improve…

Anything to this?

GTD signal snapshot

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

I had someone ask for a picture of the GTD desktop signal in action, so here it is…

snapshot of the desktop signal

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.

Rico – Home

Wednesday, July 6th, 2005

Rico – Home

“Ajax is the term that describes a set of web development techniques for creating interactive web applications. One of the key ingredients is the JavaScript object XmlHttpRequest. Rico provides a very simple interface for registering Ajax request handlers as well as HTML elements or JavaScript objects as Ajax response objects. Multiple elements and/or objects may be updated as the result of one Ajax request.”

Cornell News: New mind model

Wednesday, July 6th, 2005

Cornell News: New mind model

“The theory that the mind works like a computer, in a series of distinct stages, was an important steppingstone in cognitive science, but it has outlived its usefulness, concludes a new Cornell University study. Instead, the mind should be thought of more as working the way biological organisms do: as a dynamic continuum, cascading through shades of grey.”

[via elearnspace]

strange systems: Using Wireframes (Revised)

Wednesday, July 6th, 2005

There are many concepts that are applied consistently across many different design disciplines. Often these are the activities that seem so logical that experts don’t even think about them any more. Wireframes/Storyboards seems to be one of those concepts. A well-done sketch of a project using this sort of programmatic approach is the most important (and often, difficult) part of any design endeavor.

This site has a very nice overview of the use of wireframes from an information architecture perspective.

strange systems: Using Wireframes (Revised)

A wireframe is a stripped-down visual representation of a single web page, devoid of any graphic treatment. As the name suggests, it is a framework made with wires, which define basic layout and placement of content and page elements such as navigation; header & footer; branding etc.

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…).


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