September 2005 Archives
September 30, 2005
Of searching and upgrading...
Hi everyone. Let's get some technical news out of the way first. I've changed the main search tool on the UThink home page ("Search UThink Blogs") so that it now goes through Google rather than the out of the box Movable Type search tool. Anyone who has used the MT search capabilities has probably noticed that it is slooooow. Google actually does a really nice job of indexing UThink blogs as I've mentioned before. Hopefully you'll like the change, and as always let me know if there is any way I can improve it further.
Now for news of the upgrade, the mythical, elusive upgrade to MT 3.2 that I've written about so many times before. I feel like I'm crying wolf, but we are very close! I promise! By the end of today we should have the test instance of MT 3.2 functioning exactly like UThink functions now. That is good news. Upgrading to MT 3.2 has been more difficult than we thought it would be. We are also perfecting a tool whereby blog owners can add and manage multiple users (Internet IDs) at the same time. No more will you be limited to adding new blog authors one at a time.
In addition, on the test system we have also successfully loaded the MT SyleCatcher plugin (which will take the place of the Template Changer), and MT Blogroll (which will allow you to manage your home page links from the MT admin interface). We are also looking into installing MT Protect, which should allow blog owners to password protect both individual posts and whole blogs. That type of functionality is a very common UThink enhancement request so I am excited to see if this plugin will work.
These are just some of the things that will be possible with MT 3.2. In fact, MT 3.2 is quite a bit more advanced and will allow all sorts of new and unique configurations site wide and on a blog-by-blog basis. Be rest assured that I will be coming out with some instructional posts on how to do some of this new stuff after we upgrade.
I have stopped giving specific dates for when I think the upgrade will take place, but I am hoping it happens within the next two weeks. We are very, very close...
September 09, 2005
UThink upgrade update
It was our intention to have UThink upgraded to MT 3.17 by now. Obviously, that hasn't happened yet and I apologize. We have run into some snags that have caused us to delay the release. For now, I'm going to stop trying to guess at what date we will actually perform the upgrade, but it will be "soon." However, thanks to these delays and snags we have decided to go ahead and upgrade UThink fully to Movable Type 3.2. There are some nifty features and plug-ins in MT 3.2 that I hope will make the wait worthwhile:
- StyleCatcher: a plugin that will take the place of the Template Changer and offer UThink users new styles and designs to try on their blogs.
- Blogroll: MT 3.2 includes the capability of managing your Blogroll (roll of links on your blog) from the administrative interface.
- Dynamic publishing: choose dynamic publishing to rebuild your blogs faster. Especially useful for larger blogs.
- StatWatch: a plugin that makes tracking statistics for your blog easier.
- Add multiple users at once: we have also built a new tool that will allow you to add multiple Internet IDs to your blogs at the same time. This will hopefully make the creation process for class blogs a little easier.
We also hope to begin looking at ways to incorporate Flikr accounts into your blogs, ways to post to both LiveJournal and UThink simultaneously, new and improved methods to incorporate RSS feeds into your blog(s), etc.
Until we upgrade please continue to take the time to test the new installation. We have fixed the dynamic publishing problems and we have installed all the current plugins, including a new plugin called MutliBlog. We are trying to see if this plugin will be worthwhile to have on UThink.
Again, I am very sorry it is taking us so long. Believe me, I am as frustrated as some of you probably are. However, I think you will be happy with the upgrade when it finally happens. So, be on the lookout for messages here concerning when this upgrade will happen. One morning UThink may be down for a short period of time. When that happens it probably means we are in the middle of the upgrade. Stay tuned!
UPDATE 9/9/05 2:00 PM: We are upgrading the test instance to MT 3.2 right now, so if you are fooling around with that you may encounter some difficulties.
September 06, 2005
Class Blogging and upgrade update
Hello everyone. Welcome back to the University! I've been noticing a lot of class based blogs being created on the system, and I received a question concerning what could be done on class blogs so that a group blog adheres to FERPA guidelines, or more specifically, assuring that a group blog for a class allows for anonymity for the students participating. In other words, can you set up a UThink blog, attach students to that blog, but also allow the students to post anonymously? The answer is yes.
I've written instructions about this before, but even I think the instructions are a little daunting. So, today I have made the default templates FERPA friendly, and I have made all the templates in the Template Changer FERPA friendly. And what do I mean by FERPA friendly? I have placed into the templates that option of displaying a person's nickname rather than a person's Internet ID when the web page displays the author of a post or entry (the "Posted by" section). So, if you are attaching students to a single class based blog, before they begin posting encourage them to enter a nickname inside the "Edit Your Profile" section of the Movable Type interface. That way, when they make a post it will display their nickname rather than their real name.
And yes, I have also altered all the RSS/Atom feeds, too.
How do you make use of this new functionality? If you already have a blog on the system, simply use the Template Changer (found with the "Templates" section of the administration interface) and pick a new one, or the same template. If you are creating a new blog, this functionality will automatically be a part of your new blog.
Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns. And just to clarify, it is still currently impossible to create an anonymous personal blog. But it is possible to give additional authors of a single blog anonymity as noted above. Again, if you have any questions leave a comment or drop me a line.
We are still dillegently working on upgrading UThink to MT 3.17. I am hoping we'll be able to make the switch this week. There may be a morning that UThink is down for a short period of time. If all goes well, we should be using MT 3.17 by the end of the week. Thanks for your continued patience and sorry for the delay!