General

2011 Hood to Coast 200 Mile Relay Race: LIVE!

I’ve decided to cover H2C live in 2 formats: My Live Blog for the Outlaws and Inlaws for friends and families of our team, and a Live H2C Twitter Feed from all sorts of participants and bloggers.

Inlaws and Outlaws Live Blog of the 2011 Hood to Coast Relay

Live H2C Twitter Feed

2010 Hood to Coast Relay Live Blog

On Friday and Saturday (August 27th & 28th), I’ll be running for Team Fuller in the 2010 Hood to Coast Relay. Our team will be live blogging the event, and you can catch all the wacky action live with updates and pictures. Join us in the fun.
Due to technical difficulties, we are not able to publish the live blog for now. Check back and we’ll see if we can get it up and running.

Drupal v. Joomla: The Challenge

After my previous post comparing Word Press to DNN to Drupal, I realized there would be Joomla folks out there crying foul, and as well they should.

Why compare Drupal and DNN yet leave out poor Joomla? 

My reason seemed good enough; after all, I had no experience with Joomla, as opposed to hours upon hours of work with the other tools; however, that was no excuse. If you look at trends, you cannot ignore the data: since 2005, Joomla has surpassed Drupal in popularity.

So, if according to the trends, Joomla is the CMS of choice for most websites, how could I leave it out? Not only that, but if Joomla is so popular, why have I not worked with it yet? And that last question is what’s been bugging me for the past few days, and it has led me to my latest project: The Drupal v. Joomla Challenge.

The Challenge

The challenge is to put Joomla and Drupal in a head to head competition of content management systems (CMS) in ‘a no holds barred’ smack-down fight. I have the perfect opportunity to test the two out: I’ve been commissioned to research which CMS platform is the best for my client’s needs.

I’ve been the webmaster for a not-for profit organization for some time now, and we have decided it’s time to increase the power and functionality of the site (it’s currently a static website, and I’m the only webmaster). I’ve been given the task to research what system we should go to, and if you ask me, the best way to research is by doing.

Over the next few days, I’ll create 2 separate sites: one using Drupal and the other using Joomla. I’ll include the same content and general functionality, and I’ll compare each experience and take notes on the process. I’ll begin with the out of box set-up: I’ll compare the features, code, administration tools, and ease of use in getting content posted.

Next, I’ll explore the themes and modules created for each CMS. I’ll look at the variety, ease of implementation, functionality, and code they produce.

I’ll then see if I can create the functionality I’m aiming for, and I’ll be taking notes on the process, and of course, see if it’s even possible.

Finally, I will make an assessment of the overall experience and choose the winner.

The Criteria

We need a way to compare the two. I have decided to look at the following criteria:

Functionality: Our website highlights a number of programs, classes, and clubs around the entire state, and we want the user to be able to easily find exactly what they are looking for by filtering content by location or cost or some other factor. We therefore need a flexible, yet powerful CMS, and the specs for our needs will be a good test of the overall system.

Ease of Use: I want to know how well each one works out of the box, how easy it is to add modules and themes, how easy it is to customize (both layout and features), and how easy it is to administer users.

Standards Compliance: the site I’m working on is tied in to education, and so compliance with w3 standards will be important from an accessibility standpoint. Of course, I hate tag soup anyway, so I’m always interested in how clean the code is. I want to know how easy it is to produce table-less xhtml code, and so I’ll be specifically looking at how many errors the two systems produce and how easy it is to fix those errors.

I’ll be posting my experience over the course of the next few days (or possibly weeks). Stay tuned…

Welcome TechStart Participants

Welcome TechStart Spring Conference Participants

I thought I should say hello to my fellow CS, web design, & other various and sundry technology teachers at the Techstart & OCSTA Spring Conference. I have spared no expense to bring you the latest in open and free tools for use in the classroom and doing what we do. I just wish our students appreciated how cool things are with the advances in open-source technology like we do.

Can you remember life before the World Wide Web? I remember trying to learn how to program games. Of course, this was when Defender was the latest video game. The movie Tron had recently came out, and…I digress. I’m seriously dating myself.

My point is that we’ve got the best gadgets, and they’re all free! W00t! 

Note: once the conference is over, I’ll create a link to the wiki I created for my presentation (web20toolsfortheclassroom.pbwiki.com).

Turkey Day

If you’re going to call Thanksgiving, “Turkey Day,” you might as well call Christmas, “Tree Day” (or “Highly Decorated Tree Day”). For that matter, you might as well call Easter, “Colorful Egg Day” and Independence Day, “Firecracker Day.” Then, we should call Halloween, “Pumpkin Day” and Veterans’ Day, well, Veterans’ Day.

If it’s all about the main course, let’s create some new holidays. How about Pizza Day, Chicken Day, and Pot Roast Day? 

Great Spell Checker Poem

A student of mine posted the poem and link on my school’s moodle, and I had to pass this on to any of my readers (all two of you; thanks mom and wife!). It shows the dangers of relying too heavily on technology to do our work.

Spell Checker

I halve a spelling checker,
It came with my pea see.
It plainly marks four my revue
Mistakes I dew knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait aweigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the era rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

I’ve scent this massage threw it,
And I’m shore your pleased too no
Its letter prefect in every weigh;
My checker tolled me sew.

Tech-nified Chain Letters

Is it just me, or does Facebook feel like a 21st century technical version of a chain letter?

I don’t know about you, but every time I get a request to poke, prod, gift, pot, super-wall, rank my friends, throw Chuck Norris, chuck a sheep, or toss my cookies at someone, I start by clicking the link, and then it reminds me that in order to reciprocate, I have to check five different boxes. And Facebook conveniently checks all the boxes for me, so all I have to do is click an innocent little button.

It’s then that I pause, and I think: hmm? Do I really want to add a new toy? What does that toy do? What information will Facebook send about me? What does Facebook already know about me? What are the Application Terms of Use, and does anyone really read those things?

Then, I think about my Wall. I like my wall, but 2/3rds of my friends have the super wall. What’s so bad about my wall? Why do I need a super-wall? Should I get the poke or skip it and jump straight to the Super-Poke? Or should I wait to see if someone develops an Uber-Poke? Which simply begs the question: Where does it end?

And then, I wonder, what if I don’t click the button? What will my friend think? Have I just insulted my friend? Is that person really a friend? . . .

You know, [I’m thinking to myself, which explains the italics], he really isn’t my friend . . . is he? I mean, I’ve never met him. But then again, a real friend of mine said I should be his friend, and shouldn’t I trust my friend’s choice in recommended friends? After all, Joe Schmo has 96 friends, and I only have 35 friends.

So now, I’m feeling a shadow of guilt creep over my shoulder. It’s the same feeling I used to get when email was all the rage, and an acquaintance told me to fill out a survey about myself and forward it to 10 people, so I could have good luck. And that reminded of me the time, I got the Amway sell from my friends’ brother-in-law’s neighbor’s cousin. Or the time I was threatened to have a ghost hang out under my bed, or the letter I got warning me of dire consequences if I didn’t forward it. Hmmm . . . I guess it’s nothing new.

What I really want to know is who thinks up of these things and who falls for these things? So, the next time you invite me to poke or prod back in retaliation for throwing a Simon at me (that’s my son’s name, and I’m offended), please, don’t hate me for not responding. And the next time you suggest a friend, and I leave that request sitting in my request box because I have not met the person and still have this old-fashioned idea of making friends by actually meeting them in real person (the phrase itself is becoming arcane in this day and age). Or the next time you want me to adopt a virtual snake (my real life has enough responsibilities for me to take care of some digital daydream), please don’t get offended. And if you do, just throw a pillow at me.

Nerds, Aim High

Calling all Code Red-swilling teen computer geeks! The US Air Force wants you. In light of all the cybercrime threats and warnings, the US Air Force is seeking new recruits to train to fight on the front optical-fiber lines.

It’s about time, in light of all the buzz about China’s PLA cadre of cyberwarriors.

The Air Force is also seeking full-timers for AFCYBER. Future cyberwarriors may be more couch geek than fit flyboy – not “the same kind of folks that perhaps you want to march to breakfast in the morning,” Air Force Col. Jeff Kendall told the Council on Foreign Relations in March.

Does that mean they’re going to recruit ex-hackers who have made plea-bargains to avoid conviction?

The colonel also suggested the Air Force may have to make exceptions to its entry standards and recruit ex-hackers, who may have committed computer-related crimes or have a felony conviction for unlawfully cracking a network.

As a high school teacher of technology, I could refer the Air Force to some future “cyber-warriors.” I think I would rather some of them turn their energy away from trying to break the school district’s firewalls and put it to use defending our power-grids and government agencies.