MUniversity of Minnesota

October 2005 Archives


October 21, 2005

MT 3.2: Please test!

Hello everyone! I am pleased to announce that we now have a test system available for all of you to give Movable Type 3.2 a try:

https://blog-dev.lib.umn.edu:446/cgi-bin/uthink/mt.cgi

I would be more pleased if this was a message to tell you that we have upgraded, but, of course, it is very important to test a major change like this, especially considering there are many class blogs currently using the system. Most importantly, we have to make sure that everyone's existing blogs are upgraded without any major hitches.

So, please take this opportunity to test the new system out. There are a couple of things you will need to do while testing and a couple of things that you should check out:

  1. If you have a blog in the current system, this test system should include an earlier version of the blog. Please log in and immediately "rebuild" the blog. This is very important. Once you have rebuilt, "view" your blog (View Site). If you see anything strange please let me know. I will be able to determine if it is a major problem or not.

    With this new system we are changing the directory structure. Due to MT's new use of "dynamic" publishing it is preferred that everything your blog produces is put in the same directory. This means that we are doing away with the "archives" directory. Your blog URL will stay the same, and the system should be able to rewrite all your links properly. Instead of archive files going into the "archive directory, though, everything will be put into the main directory for your blog (what was previously known as the "local path"). Like I said above, it is important to test these things out.

  2. Check out the new Comments management features. Spamming has become more and more of an issue not only on UThink but in the blogosphere in general. MT 3.2 has great comment management tools that allow you to delete and/or junk multiple comments at once. MT 3.2 also comes with a new tool called SpamLookup which is a more powerful way of combating spam than MT-Blacklist (what we currently use). Although it is impossible to get rid of all blog spam, these tools should cut down on spam a great deal and give you the means to manage your comments better.

    In the "Settings" section there is also option to turn on the "approval" functionality for comments. This means if you want, you can see and approve every comment before it is published. Some people find this annoying, especially the commenters themselves, but some of you could certainly find it useful. Please note: the Typekey functionality (forcing someone to login through Typekey before being able to post) does not currently work. We may remove this option from the menu before we move it into production.

  3. You should try to create a new blog. To do that, click on "Weblogs" in the "System Shortcuts" section, and then click on "Create New Weblog." Please let me know if you encounter any difficulty with this.
  4. In this new system, the "Template Changer" will be replaced by the "StyleCatcher." There is an important difference between the two. With the StyleCatcher your blog must use the default MT templates. So, if you'd like to test out the StyleCatcher the easiest way is to create a new blog, click on "Templates," and then click on "Select a Design using StyleCatcher." A new blog automatically uses the default MT templates.

    If you have an existing blog from the current system and you'd like to change how it looks MT 3.2 has made it easy to revert to the default templates. Simply go into your existing blog, click on "Templates," and find the "More actions" drop down menu. Choose "Refresh Templates." This will "refresh" your index templates back to the default templates for MT 3.2. You will have to repeat this process for your "Archive" and your "System" templates. Once you've done that, try using the StyleCatcher.

  5. Try to use the new "Blogroll" functionality. This new version of UThink will allow you to manage your external links, your "blogroll," without having to mess with the Main Index (although that will still be an option if you want it). If you'd like to give this a try, use a newly created blog, or a blog where you have refreshed the templates. This is another piece of functionality that makes use of the default MT 3.2 templates. Enter your blog and look for "Edit My Blogroll" on the bottom of the Main Menu. Enter a couple of links, rebuild your main index, and view your site. You should see your "blogroll" appear in the Links section of your blog home page.
  6. You should also try to test out the "dynamic publishing" capabilities of MT 3.2. Early on people recognized a potential problem with MT 2.661 is the fact that when an author rebuilds his or her blog, every page is written out statically. If you've got a moderate to large sized blog, rebuilding can take quite a while. With the dynamic publishing option, archives can be set up to be dynamic. This means that the pages are built dynamically from the backend database when the pages are actually requested. This makes rebuilding a little less cumbersome.

    To test out this option, choose "Settings" and then the "Publishing" tab. From there select "Build only Archive Templates dynamically." Rebuild. Then view your blog and click on the links for the monthly, individual, and category archives. Again, let me know if you see anything out of the ordinary.

  7. As promised, we have also created functionality to add multiple authors at once. In the current system, if you want to add multiple authors to your blog you have to add them one at a time. No longer! To try out this new functionality choose "System Overview" on the top of the page, then select "Authors." Above the list of authors you should see two choices for creating authors, one of which says "Create Multiple New Authors." This new bit of functionality will let you add as many authors as you want to any number of the blogs you have control over. We hope this will make class based blogging a little easier. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Well, that should be good for now. Again, please, please, please take a moment to give this new system a try, especially if you maintain a blog on the current system. We need to make sure that this upgrade will work for current blogs in a way that is not disruptive. In our own testing we have not had many problems. If all goes well with this broader test, we should be able to upgrade sooner rather than later.

Let me know what you think!

Posted by snackeru at 10:20 AM | Comments (14)

October 11, 2005

Podcast information

Yesterday Chad Fennell and Peter Weinhold of the Health Sciences Library gave a great presentation concerning podcasting for the DMC's Educational Technologists Forum. Their presentation covered podcasting basics and various tools and links you could use to both create and subscribe to podcasts yourself. If you missed the presentation you can download it here:

A Podcasting Framework

In addition, I am happy to announce that UThink has expanded the maximum upload file size for uploads to your blogs. In the past, we have limited the file size per upload to 5 MB. In order to make podcasting and vlogging easier for you we have now increased the maximum file upload size to 15 MB. Depending on audio quality, compression, and other factors, you should be able to put up some lengthy podcasts now through UThink.

Again, all new blogs on UThink are automatically set up to handle podcasts and RSS 2.0 enclosures. All you need to do is upload your MP3 file and link to it from a blog entry. UThink/Movable Type will handle the rest. If you have a blog older than 3 months, please see these instructions if you plan on including podcasts on your blog.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Posted by snackeru at 10:14 AM