Playing with Technology

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. ~Arthur C. Clarke

  • The great Voices upgrade of 2010

    Ah, July, the month of software upgrades on college campuses across the nation. It is no different at Wooster. This July we will be upgrading the two main application for which I am the administrator, WordPress and Moodle. Of the two I am most interested in WordPress since there are a host of new features and because the Multi User aspect has been rolled into the core software and rebranded as Multi Site.

    This change should open up a world of plugins for MS installations that MU installs could not really count on. It also is a huge undertaking since we have been running 2.8.6 for the past year. I just want to document the steps I’m taking on the test server for upgrading from 2.8.6 to 3.0.

    • Disable BP Events plugin (breaks when upgrading to 2.9.2 with white screen)
    • Disable Incsub Support, Wibstats, RA BP Author Link, RA Featured Posts in mu-plugins (move to retired-mu-plugins)
    • Switch themes to a generic theme
    • Rename our modified BP Corporate theme to Wooster BP Corporate
    • Enable Wooster BP Corporate theme for main site
    • Activate Wooster BP Corporate theme
    • Upgrade BP Corporate Theme (download from WPMU Dev Premium)
    • Rename BP Corporate Child theme to BP Corporate Wooster Child
    • Copy header.php from BP Corporate theme to the Wooster Child and add the modifications to allow rotating header images
    • Upgrade from 2.8.6 to 2.9.2
    • Disable Ahjira Recent Site-wide Posts (broken with newer BuddyPress versions)
    • Upgrade any plugins that indicate they need it (BuddyPress and BP Groupblogs excluded)
    • Disable BuddyPress and BP Groupblogs
    • Upgrade BuddyPress
    • Upgrade BP Groupblogs
    • Switch the theme to BP Corporate Wooster Child (our old modified version of BP Corporate doesn’t work with new BuddyPress)
    • Run the Upgrade script to update all the blogs (takes a long time, maybe 2 hours)
    • Click the Update to 3.0 button in the Dashboard
    • Click Upgrade Automatically
    • Follow the instructions in the Dashboard header
    • Click on Update Network (and wait 2 hours for it to finish)

    After this lengthy process Voices should be upgraded to WordPress 3.0 with the latest BuddyPress. One item of note is that any changes that were supposed to be made to .htaccess need to be made to the wpmu-rewrite.conf file of the Apache2 install. Our SysAdmin does not use .htaccess and has those directives in this special Apache2 config file. This means an Apache restart will be required for images to work after the upgrade from 2.9.2 to 3.0.

  • WordPress 3.0 and the future of “Playing with Technology”

    WordPress 3.0 “Thelonious” has gone live and I have updated the Instructional Technology site, Playing with Technology, Jon Breitenbucher, Orthogonal Creations, The Breitenbuchers and On my five sites, all hosted on a DreamHost PS, everything went smoothly. I was shocked when this site upgraded without a hitch. I am running 42 plugins on the site and have another 30 or so that are not active. Not a single one had an issue. The only problem I had on the site was with the feed. There is something in the site that is adding blank lines at the head of the feed. A quick Google search and it is fixed.

    So far I am very happy with the upgrade and am looking forward to playing with custom posts and the other features added. But the most pressing thing for me is taking the five sites I maintain and moving them to networks so that they can have sites of their own and so that I only have one code installation to worry about. For example, on this site, it would be nice to have another site that could have it’s own theme and plugins. Currently, I would have to muck about with custom code to style the WoW ravings page differently and while I know how; I just don’t feel like doing it. So I am looking into ways to move this site and four of the others to the codebase since it is already set up as a MultiSite installation. I’m sure that @andrea_r and other WP folks can give me some pointers. If all goes well I hope to have this migration done in the next week or so. I think doing this will give me some good experience for what we will be able to do with Voices as well.

  • But I want to use that on my iPad Apple…

    As I looked at an iPad in the Apple store last week and watched my daughter’s eyes go all round and glossy, I tried to think of what exactly I would do with one. I couldn’t really think of a situation where an iPad would be more convenient or necessary. If I want to watch a movie on a plane my iPhone is perfect it is easy to carry and doesn’t distract my fellow passengers. If I want to read, I’ll pull out an actual book. I don’t have to worry about breaking the book and if I do then I’m out a few dollars.

    I came back to thinking about this again yesterday when I saw a post in my RSS feeds saying Apple had approved some app and that Jobs had said people who wanted to watch porn could get an Android phone. Do you find this alarming? As I thought about it I sure did. Basically I’m letting a third party tell me what I can and can’t do on my device. Then I wondered how that is any different than network television. I don’t think I’m completely off base with my concerns and I’m sure others have voiced similar concerns and so the question becomes what can I do about it? I’m sure the Android app store has some sort of approval process and policies governing what can be in the Market. Until you can add apps to the device without going through a store you are stuck.

    This is why I’m not sure I’ll ever own an iPad. To me it is a giant media consumption device and I can consume media on my HDTV, laptop, and iPhone just fine. In fact the laptop even lets me create things for others to consume and that is the rub. Without a way to create meaningful content the iPad will always be useless to me. I think the only way this changes is if everything is in the cloud and the iPad just becomes a means to interface with it. But for now I can’t develop a WordPress template in the cloud (maybe someone will enlighten me). Maybe Chrome OS will be where we are in 5-7 years, but for today I am left pondering whether I agree with the closed universe Apple seems to be developing.

  • Quicklaunchers or How I learned to stop mousing and love the keyboard

    I’ve been a big fan of quicklaunchers since I got my current MacBook Pro almost four years ago (wow, does anyone want to help me get a newer one?). I may have even fooled around with them on my old 12″ MacBook Pro. I found it very frustrating to have to use the trackpad to mouse around and open files and programs and so I started using Launchbar (which now sits inactive in my Applications folder). It was great. I just hit CTRL+Space and typed a few letters and bam, I could visit a URL, open a file, open a program, send an e-mail. I was in heaven.

    It was only a few months later I think that I heard about QuickSilver the perpetual beta quicklauncher. I don’t remember why I switched but I switched from Launchbar to Quicksilver. It was probably the nice bezel look I could get on Quicksilver that made me switch. I was still in heaven and able to fly around my computer without taking my hands off the keyboard. Maybe I wasn’t flying since I type so slowly, but it was faster then mousing around. Then a few months ago Boone Gorges wrote a post about how he was using Quicksilver and I realized I had been missing so much. I tried to follow some of Boone’s tips but encountered little success. To top it off Quicksilver started crashing and just generally acting sluggish since upgrading to 10.6.

    So today I happened to read a tweet that mentioned a new quicklauncher, Alfred. The name is not as sexy as Quicksilver, but I downloaded it anyway. Initially it didn’t work. I wrote the nice folks at Alfred and they hooked me up with a version that would run on my old non 64 bit laptop (someone should really get me a new one). Let me say I love the design of their site and so far Alfred feels a lot faster than Quicksilver. I’m not sure Alfred can do all the crazy things Boone has Quicksilver doing, that is why I’m hoping he downloaded it and can try to push it. For now I’ll try Alfred and keep my hands on the keyboard. Yahooooo!

  • Do you have time to meet with me?

    I have been asked this question a lot over the past five years. In my split role as an Instructional Technologist and Professor, people often need to meet with me to pose some questions. I wasn’t always great about putting the chance encounter meetings onto my calendar and would often double book. To try and address this I set up my own Web calendar and started sending people there when they wanted to meet with me. It worked but still had issues (people had to e-mail me a meeting time so I could add it to the calendar) and I had to keep the software updated. So last semester I just put everything in my Google calendar and didn’t have to update software anymore, but I still had students e-mailing me to setup appointments. So I was delighted when I clicked a link in one of my feeds that took me to

    Tungle makes it super simple to allow people to schedule meetings with me. In the first four weeks of class, I’ve already had half of my class use the link I give them in our course site to setup a meeting. So far it has been a joy to use and I can’t think of anything I’d need to change. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I recommended it to the other members of the Instructional Technology department. And they must be doing something right because my boss has started using it. I’m not sure how you’d find it via Google as a search for “web based scheduling” and “web based appointments” didn’t turn up Tungle in the first page of results. Hopefully people reading this spread the word.

Sometimes I’m an Instructional Technologist and sometimes I’m a Mathematician, but I’m crazy all the time.



Social Network

feed me