Thursday, 22 November 2007

Easy install of OS software on Linux.. Whatever next

A colleague of mine, introduced me to a piece of software yesterday called Redmine. This little beauty of a product is an open source project management tool and is developed in Ruby using the rails framework.

Since I had to move to Ubuntu to replicate our delivery server for developing applications I have been getting to grips with how to use Linux. Now you would have though implementing this kit of software would not be easy on a linux sysem, thanks to a site called BitNami they make installation a heck of a lot easier. I had this installed in under 15 minutes and only had to enter a few details during the process.

They also publish these easy installs for windows and the Mac.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Open Sourcing GPS

Now I've probably missed the boat on this one ... wouldn't it be amazing if phone companies opened up GPS locations.

To be able to program programs effectively for a given environment would take personalization to the extreme. Look at how the web has developed allowing communities to form to develop software. Now there is alot of ethics in this that would come into play such as authorization from the end user.

Currently there are companies offering limited services, just think if this sort of service was opened up to other institutions. For example a class field trip where we could produce certain materials for a given environment. And let people explore. Or audio files which kick in for tourist attractions, like they do just now with the tape and headfones.

With the ifone we can now program ourselves new integrated services.

By the way if this is already out there, make a comment as I would be interested to see what is being done within this area.


Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The wind of change

Recently I have been working on a project to develop a web based question exam system. While there are few in the market at the moment, they are quite costly for institutions to implement. The system I am working on is created using PHP 5 as the base language but incorporates other languages including Javascript, HTML, CSS, XML and MYSQL.

Many commercial companies only develop for Internet explorer and use 3rd party plugins like flash/java. The goal of the project is to create a web based system which will hopefully fingers crossed be made up of pure web technologies. Many people have wondered for such a project why we are not using Ruby on Rails. At this moment in time Ruby on rails is still in development and seemingly is slower than PHP with regards to server processing. I will eventually hopefully learn how to program using MVC though that is a bit down the line.

The other plan we have in mind is using a system like PRISM for running summative web assessment which lock the user out, though more though needs to go into this.

The structure of the assessment engine will read in XML documents containing question/assessment which are located within an assessment directory. The XML is formatted in a way which is easy to ready and easily adaptable. (I am at the moment in time trying to stay away from techie lingo). Within the assessment directory will be a folder called the assessment name. Within that folder will be a configuration file containing the assessments configuration.

If anyone has any info on how they developed a system or any ideas, feel free to drop the department a line at

Adios for now,


Thursday, 8 November 2007

Engineering silent brainiacs......

With the use of using technology as a means of communication and assessment, we seem to be going down a road of using technology because we can. Take the flow of an example program from a lecturer below

student picks question >>> student writes critique>>> student picks up critique of own work>>>student then writes response>> student then picks up someone else's response.

Now above does not all seem to out of the norm, what is out of the norm is that this is all done electronically, the student does not interact with any other person. Rather than learning how to behave face to face using emotions, the system handles this part for them, allowing the students to hide behind their screens....

Although student's will have to electronically critique others throughout their life, they should also learn the skills before they hit the work place on how to debate and take critique.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Versioned ... 0

My eyes have been opened -_- previously versioning software relied upon using text files with dates and date stamping everything. We installed subversion and trac last week and already the department is running more efficient with regards to secure updating and retrieval.

I would definitely recommend using subversion if you are working with web technologies. The ability to easily roll back to previous versions and retrieve lost data is brilliant!!

At the moment in time tortoise is the GUI of choice and is again recommended if working with windows.

The Plunge !!

At the moment in time we rely on a piece of software called Authorware which was developed by Macromedia. Authorware was made redundant earlier this year and since then we have been debating on how re engineer our *redundant* assessments on the web.

We deliver summative and formative assessment's at the moment in time, to service the University's students. Recently due to the lack of support of Authorware we have been having sporadic crashes in our labs.

Since Mozilla announced they were going to be developing an open source method delivering Internet application on the desktop called prism, the office has been buzzing. Not only does this mean we get to learn web development, but it means that we can make our assessment engine a lot more stable and platform independent. The prism will be very useful for delivering summative assessments while in a controlled environment.