Happy New Year

It's the end of another year and another Decade. I'm ever so grateful for 2009, The Matrix, Superman Returns and Star Trek and I look forward to a happy 2010. Bring on the Grand Prix, World Cup, the new A-Team Movie and finally an ending to Lost.

I would like to wish you all a Happy 2010.


How to access the new Sky+HD EPG Installer Menu

If you’ve recently had the new SKY+HD EPG then this is how you access the Installer Menu to enable RF output for the use of a TV Link.

1 Press Services on your Sky remote.
2 Press 0
3 Press 0
4 Press 1
5 Press Select

Its the day for URL shorteners

Google and Facebook have announced today that they will be launching their own URL shortening service. Goo.gl and fb.me

I'm more excited with Google shortening service with their Google Analytics being as awesome as it is.

Since I've been bogging and tweeting I've always used bit.ly as they have a great service for statistics which I've no doubt Google will rival.

Google should just buy out bit.ly and have done with it!

(Via Google)

Moodle Flickr Integration

I stumbled across integrating flickr into Moodle by mistake. I was browsing flash photo gallerys and came across Tiiltviewer (http://www.simpleviewer.net/tiltviewer/) a 3D photo viewer which can automatically pull photos from a local folder or flickr photostream. Like a lightbulb I came up with the idea of integrating this into Moodle.

After researching and understanding the code of tiltviewer it was quite simple how it works, normally you would enter your flicker id, nope not your flickr username (eg 'sukhwant') but your flickr id ('81336486@N00') manually into the correct location of the file and then it would automatically put your flickr photos into the 3D flash viewer.

As this worked locally with me manually entering my flickr id, we needed an easier way for students to be able to do this. Moodle has the built in ability for admin to create user profile fields, so I created one called flickr id and this would ask users to enter their id in their Moodle profile.

Next we needed to get the users ID and enter it into the tiltviewer file, those of you who know a bit of PHP you will know that you have to do a query on the User_Profile_Info_data table and then echo the users results into the code of the correct location in the file.

I know there is a bit more jiggery pokery with the code but it is relatively simple.

The problem we has with this method is that students don't know their own flickr ID (I didn't even know I had one) and trying to explain this to students is a task of it's own, short of me changing every users flickr username to ID as they entered their username into Moodle.

So never the less I carried on researching into a better and easier way, I wanted users to be able to enter their username and even flickr ID (if possible!) if they were geeky enough to know it.

After looking at the flickr api and browsing my own photostream I noticed that flickr provides a slideshow of your photos, this is at a static URL ('http://www.flickr.com/photos/username/show/') In the URL flickr is happy to accept both the flickr id and username! awesome!

So to fix this, I scrapped the previous gallery and switched to flickr's own slideshow by simply linking users to the url - http://www.flickr.com/photos/username/show/ and echo their username or id into the required location.

Once users have entered their id, they would see a link on their Moodle profile page which opened up in an ajax window their photo gallery.

This worked a treat and we've been using it ever since, it's also very popular with our Photography and media departments.

This was my first integration into Moodle, we then proceeded on integrating Twitter, Xbox and stumbleupon in a similar fashion.

A day in the life of the internet

A typical day in the life of the Internet, who knew there were so many computers!

(Via Online Education)

Moodle Themes, are they integral to learning?

Moodle Themes, are they integral to learning?

I’ve always liked a bright, bold, funky, fresh theme on our Moodle site but I question if It’s made an impact on the end users learning, after all a website link is a website link, a word document is a word document and a presentation is still a presentation regardless of the theme it was delivered on.

We have always used our theme as a tool to grab the interest of the end user, allowing them to change background colours etc and I think it has worked, our usage stats have never been higher and the feedback we’ve had from staff, students and the Moodle Community has been overwhelming.

Themes must be important to the overall experience of Moodle because If they aren’t then why are there so many companies that charge to develop a Moodle theme? After all there are plenty of free themes that are available from the Moodle.org website.

So to answer my initial question, are Moodle themes integral to learning? Yes I think they are! I just need to find a way to prove this now….

Internet Green Cross Code for Children

The BBC have announced today that the government will be adding compulsory lessons for all children called “Click Clever, Click Safe” in an attempt to teach children not to give out personal information over social websites.

Is this too little to late? Has the Internet generation been and gone? The Government doesn’t think so and they think that this will help provide a clear message to all children.

They could just ask people to use common sense, but that would make too much sense!

(Via BBC)

Google introduces new homepage

Google have launched a new version of the infamous search homepage. What’s different? Well they have gone minimalist; they do say less is more.
As soon as you move your mouse on the website the links and other options fade back in. It’s a bit of a shock at first but you soon appreciate what Google are trying to achieve. After all they are a Search Engine.

Official Google Blog

Moodle Forum Recycle Bin

On Leeds City College Moodle we have a Student Forum which is a massively popular area with over 6000 hits per week.

As this is a standard Moodle forum, it’s quite limited in features compared to open source independent forums such as phpBB. One of the most features we missed this most was to hide or delete posts that staff could still access but students couldn’t.

To work around this, I created another forum called Recycle Bin within the same course and hide it from students using the eye.
When a student creates a post that you want to recycle you can simply move this discussion to the Recycle Bin

By moving posts to the recycle bin rather than deleting it means you always have a record of the thread should you need to refer to it at a later date.

World Aids Day 2009

Today is World Aids Day 2009 and to raise awareness I have created a #Red Moodle theme for Leeds City College Moodle.

I’ve gone all out! The background, dropdowns have gone red and I’ve redesigned the main header and the 3 quick links sections to match.

Have a look, I’m grateful for all feedback.


New Sky+ HD EPG, what’s all the fuss about?

I’ve been waiting ages and I’ve finally got it! The Band new Sky+ HD EPG (Electronic Programme Guide), so what’s all the fuss about, here are a couple of new features that will wet your appetite.

Well firstly it’s a proper resolution for 16:9 screens, geeks alike will have noticed that the original sky menu was designed for a 4:3 screen and as it carried over for 16:9 screens it became stretched and skewed.

Now, Next & Later, as they have optimised the banner for widescreen they can fit more in. Sky now shows what’s showing now, next and later.

Information button – on the old EPG you could browse what’s showing on other channels but couldn’t view the information for that programme. This has been fixed, what ever programme your browsing you can now view the information for (Virgin media have been doing this for years).

When you press the TV Guide button you’ll notice that it’s totally different and slightly overwhelming as there is quite a lot of information. Once you get used to it, it becomes a whole different ball game.

You’ll immediately notice that you can carry on watching your programme, there is a small preview in the top right corner of the programme you was watching (there isn’t even a break in the audio when you switch to the TV guide and back, Awesome).

There are plenty of more updates features and updates that Sky has included….I guess you’ll just have to get SKY HD to find out more!