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Retreat To Move Forward, Part II

My notes from the GPS Retreat on January 14, 2013.
  • Knowledge + Practice = Competence
  • Marginalization occurs when the individual cannot change and the culture is not open. Here's the environment in which gangs thrive because no one goes unclaimed for long.
  • We're not aware of our own culture the way a fish doesn't know from water.
  • Culture tends not to explain itself.
  • We all act normal and natural; it's just that normal and natural vary by culture.
  • Make an assumption of positive intent.
  • Build a bridge by connecting with another's sense of values.
  • The Art of Intercultural Competency
    • know as much about the other
    • know what informs you
  • Falsehood that if I change I am not being authentic to myself.

Chip Chip Hooray!

To the tune of Folsom Prison Blues:

I hear that Chip's retirin'. He's biking down the road.
And we're just trying to pay him all the thanks he's owed.
Well he's been with Global Campus, now the LAC.
I'll miss him 'round the office. He was always nice to me.

Credit Card Authorizations

Greg Miller spoke at a recent web standards meeting. Funny guy, which you wouldn't expect from the Manager of PCI DSS Compliance. I guess you need a sense of humor to marry the vast accounting network at the University with the willfully misleading banking industry while abiding heaps of regulations and consumer protections.

What I Learned and I Hope I Got This Right

  • DSS = Data security Standards.
  • PCI = a counsel consisting of VISA, MC, AmEX and Discover who set policy for credit card authorizations. The counsel owns the credit card number and the associated data regardless of the issuing institution.
  • Wells Fargo Merchant Services is the University's Merchant Bank with whom we have an entitlement account.

We must be PCI compliant always always always or we can be hung out to dry. A single breech or incident, no matter how minor, must be reported by law. Law also dictates the consequences and remedies. You must hire an independent Quality Security Assessor. You must notify card holders. You must track down the 20% of card holders who may have moved. You must pay two years of credit monitoring. IOW, it adds up fast!

My Take-Aways

  • I will not touch a credit card or someone's credit card info.
  • I will use for online credit card transactions.
  • I will not use Pay Pal or this funky Square Up thingy.
  • I understand that EFTs are bad because transactions don't come with data indicating what UofM account the funds should be deposited into.
  • For event registrations I will use RegOnline or CCE who are entitled to their cut and may not meet every last need I have.
  • I will trust that the University responds to trends and consumer expectations but has to balance risk and regulations.

Retreat To Move Forward

There are two attitudes toward other cultures. Minimization = Hey, deep down we're all the same. Defense = We're different and they're silly and quaint. Encouraging students to actively look for evidence contrary to their attitude deepens their cultural learning.

There is no such thing as common sense. Common sense is really cultural sense.

Behaviors can vary even when beliefs and values line up. Sanitation for example, in the west we use utensils believing it more hygienic than using one's fingers. Other cultures disagree.

Simply awareness is not the goal. It's bridging the gap.

Mish mooshkilla: No problem, no problem. I'll have that for you Friday. Translation: You might get that next Wednesday.

Generalized tendencies: ahem, stereotypes.

Start from a place of positive intent. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you.

Book suggestions from Table 7

Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China, John Pomfret
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Charles C. Mann
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, Isabel Wilkerson
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford

Changing Your Password

When prompted by OIT security to change your password, consider changing your password on these other systems:


Have I mentioned I joined Toastmasters? Join me and other University staff and students at noon on Wednesdays. Get more information on our website.


There's movement on the UCosmic initiative. Mitch Leventhal writes,

I am writing to you at the very end of 2010 to announce some very exciting news. The UCosmic Consortium is now being formed. We will be publicly announcing the launch in the second week of January.

Since you or your institution has expressed interest in UCosmic at some point over the past several years, we are contacting you prior to our public announcement, in the event that you would like to be among our Charter members. The attached letter details the opportunity. Additional information can be found at

MinneWebCon: It's the Little Things

Full title: It's the Little Things Part 2: You're Still Doing It Wrong

  • Forms should flow like a conversation
  • Ask for optional info after collecting required info
  • group into logical chunks
  • If you need multiple page forms, tell them how long it will take and relay their progress
  • Keep the user focused on the task with a single call to action. Don't give them other stuff to do, places to go.
  • Your user is right, you are wrong.
  • Scrub data on the server side, not in front of the user. For example, don't reformat phone numbers while the user is typing or force them to enter data a specific way.
  • Don't auto-tab into fields
  • Use date picker or date.js
  • Check out Huffduffer for their MAD LIBS style form
  • There's a fourth label position: overlay where the label is inside the label and dissolves as the user begins typing. But use sparingly because people forget.
  • $('input').labelover();
  • Use a tab index to prevent user from jumping around
  • Color hinting on its own is bad. Add shapes for speedy recognition.
  • Position error messages proximate to input and where focus is
  • try


  1. There's always a better way
  2. Be minimal
  3. Be flexible

MinneWebCon: Progressive Enhancement

Progressive Enhancement is delivering an enhanced version of a page to users with advanced browsers. CSS 3 supports rounded corners, drop-shadows and transparency. CSS 3 is not fully developed yet. Look for -moz (Firefox) and -webkit (Safari, mobile devices). Use rgba() where a is the transparency.
  • Used Google SketchUp
  • Design, Test, Repeat
  • Collaboration Tools - morning status meetings; Basecamp by 37 Signals
  • Designers and developers were part of the test - they wrote it and observed it.
  • Do frequent, informal testing. Don't wait until the end.
  • Discuss. What did we learn? What do we need to solve for? Do many, many cycles.
  • Don't get attached to an idea because it will change.
  • Your prototype = your deliverable

Conducting a test

  • Ask the user to think out loud
  • Don't help the tester
  • Emulate the real world
  • Make sure they understand failure is not their fault
  • Keep a list of what users complain about
  • Observe how you interact with the system
  • Not all user feedback should be incorporated
  • User testing does not stop at launch
  • Beware of test bias. Once a user becomes acquainted, they will repeat it
  • Make sure scenarios tease out pitfalls
  • Don't always listen to the solution the user is proposing but the problem they're identifying.
  • Myth: 3-10% of SEO depends on key word density. So don't write for search engines.
  • Myth: Bold and italics increase rank
  • Myth: On-page keyword is the single most important thing.

These may have been true once but SEO has changed. Why do these myths persist?

  • Old sites using old strategy may still rank high.
  • A love of formula and easy-to-measure methods.


  • Use verbs and adjectives. Your user is not an algorithm. Don't write for search engines. Write for people who use search engines.
  • Quality writing always rules.
  • Make sure your content and links match
  • Write a coherent site map with links
  • Focus the content on the page
  • Plan keywords users use and use those words coherently

Keyword Planning

  • Use words users use; not the internal words
  • Use a human voice; it keeps users engaged until they pull the trigger
  • Most searches are unique; most are 2-3 words long; long, descriptive phrases convert much better.
  • Pick the most relevant, appropriate term; have core phrases map to one page
  • Use 2-5 words; not overly broad; don't use conjunctions
  • Avoid words with multiple meanings; "dirty" search terms; avoid acronyms
  • Diversity not density; group by focus and intent
  • Try Google Suggest and Google Wonder Wheel

The keyword meta tag is a code element with no value but people freak if you don't use it. Description meta tag is a code element with some conversion value. Title tag has value and should use key phrase. Use keyword tag to put misspellings but don't worry too much about misspellings because Google takes care of it.

MinneWebCon: Kristina Halvorson

  • Amid the junk we find something precious and our immediate impulse is to share it
  • How can we better manage the relevance, timeliness and accuracy of our content
  • Read Edward Tufte, Jesse James Garrett
  • "Content is not a feature."
  • Content Strategy = plan for the creation, publication and governance of useful, usable content.
  • A strategy is a plan to attain a specific goal or result; it is not a list of tactics.
  • Problem: no one is empowered to say No.


  1. Audit - Do a content inventory
  2. Ask - Why, what, by whom, how often, what next
  3. Analyze - Take stock of people too; they usually have to do content on top of everything else they do.
  4. Align - Cultivate the plan; it's not a linear process, rather a cyclical one
  5. Assume Responsibility
  • No single div around the footer, it's two.
  • Every layout has a secondary layout page.
  • Only thing we "have to" use by the end of 2010 is the header and footer.
  • Update the relatives links to the browser hack ie style sheets.
  • When updating header image, just change the src. Don't remove and insert.
  • Separate keywords with a space. You cannot have phrases.
  • 960 grid system based on 12 columns of 80 pixels; no padding, no margin
  • reset.css sets a baseline for all browsers because they have different defaults
  • optional regions not used on bare bones
  • Divs are only as big as the content inside them.
  • Don't rewrite the stylesheet, contradict with your own style sheet.

Creating Mobile Friendly Web Pages

In the UTTC's Mobile-Friendly Web Pages. Check out will check and validate your site for mobile devices. also

Good mobile-friendly design:

  • one-column layout
  • light on graphics
  • only most current, relevant info, mostly links to landing pages with content

Do Nothing Sort of. Make sure you have valid XHTML and are using semantic XHTML and presentation technologies like CSS.

Use Mobile CSS Get rid of images over 200 pixels wide by putting them in the presentation layer. Opera mini and Mobile Safari ignore the handheld media type and go right to screen, grrr. Always always always assign a media type to style sheet. Avoid fixed-width measurements like pixels. ems are good. Pad on the top and bottom, not left and right. wc3 has script that will comb your stylesheet for mobile unfriendly commands. in general, mobile-web browsers have trouble with:

  • background-images
  • display
  • padding and margins
  • float
  • positioning

Create a mobile site One benefit is you can maintain different description and keyword meta tags. Best to limit title to 16 characters. WAP 2.0 doesn't do cookies.

Browser Agent Detection If you go this route, consider giving users a path to toggle between sites.

Tomorrow: One Web Policy, Multiple Device Delivery, Mobile today, tomorrow television, text messaging, audio services like goog411, "The internet isn't the desktop, the internet is my content." Amen.

Meeting with Distributed Education

When solving a problem, forget about the technology and list your objectives. Then research what technology best meets those objectives. Don't hunt for an excuse to use cool new tech. Guilty.


  • Supports multiple audio but there's latency.
  • Recorded sessions can only be used as recorded. You can't edit, insert, remove or repurpose.
  • Did you know you can do polls on UMConnect? Great for getting a sense of where your audience is at.
  • You can use the directed chat window but it's not super secure. What if the person you chat is sharing their screen to the group?
  • You can share presenter role.
  • You don't need fancy equipment - though an inexpensive headset is recommended to keep feedback at a minimum.
  • The presenter drives how the screen appears to the audience.

If bandwidth is an issue...

  • Preload presentations to reduce file size and speed up downloads.
  • Skip the video and substitute a still picture.

Skype is limited to a small number of connections - good for small collaborations but not webinars.

Consider building up to your live presentation with asynchronous reading and discussion on Moodle.

Remember, nothing is free. It's "centrally subsidized."

Link to video services UMConnect web conferencing support.