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Topic: Web Technologies

Minnebar Conference

Join the twin cities hackerati at the upcoming "unconference", Minnebar. Sessions will range from new web technology standards, diy how-tos, social software, and more. You're also invited to host your own ad hoc session on the topic of your choice. Refreshments provided and best of all, it's free!


Posted on 11:42 AM by westr015 Computation Information Architecture Social Software Software Web Technologies

Topic: Web Technologies

Firefox Plug-In for UMN People Search

Firefox, and several other browsers, support a really simple method for adding search engines to that little search box in the upper right corner of the browser window. There's a list of some common ones at the Firefox Search Engines Page. Here at the U of M, the Libraries have implemented their own. I thought it would be nice to have one for the U of M's People Search, a directory search tool that let's you find email addresses, phone numbers, etc.

Here's the link to install the search engine for Firefox (and other compatible browsers):
Install UMN People Search

Here's the XML definition file:

Posted on 2:05 PM by westr015 Web Technologies

Topic: Web Technologies

Calculate Your Purchases in Barrels of Oil

Michael Mandiberg, an net artist, has created Oil Standard, a plugin for Mozilla Firefox that converts any price on any web page you're viewing into barrels of oil. This is the first time I've noticed (maybe you have another example) this type of artistic use of what is normally a very pragmatically used scripting tool (Greasemonkey). You'll need three things to have this petroleum-based fun:

  1. Firefox Browser
  2. Greasemonkey Scripting Tool
  3. Oil Standard Script

Have fun.

Posted on 9:13 AM by westr015 Art Computation Web Technologies

Topic: Web Technologies

Architecture for Humanity Gets a Wish from Sun Microsystems

Every year at the TED Conference someone is granted a world-changing wish. This year it was Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity. Sinclair is currently teaching here at the University of Minnesota department of architecture. From the article:

As part of his wish, Sinclair requested a means to allow architects, funders, non-governmental organizations and communities to collaborate on generating and implementing innovative housing solutions globally. Sun answered by offering to provide an online platform that will facilitate collaboration and sharing of designs and will use advanced technology to simulate geographic/seismic, political/cultural and financial ramifications of designs. Sun and Sinclair will gather additional support from the technology, entertainment and design industries represented at the TED conference.

Link to Press Release

Posted on 6:38 PM by westr015 Architecture Computation Grad School Social Software U of M Web Technologies

Topic: Web Technologies

Adding Horsepower to Google Maps

The Eyebeam Open Research Group has been busy. They've developed a software packeage that ties Google Maps together with Macromedia 's Flash technology. This allows for all of the nifty things like markers the Google's built into their maps api plus all of the vector drawing and animation capability of Flash. You can see an example of the new software in action on Eyebeam's interactive NYC Subway Map .

Link: VGMap

Posted on 10:54 AM by westr015 Web Technologies

Topic: Web Technologies

Search as Landscape

I was thinking today about using the U's Google search as a tool to visualize its virtual landscape. Each of the myriad of University administrative and academic departments has its own base address, e.g. or . At a basic level this could be as simple as clustering the results by department or unit. There are further possibilities, though, for graphically presenting these clustered results according to administrative heirarchy (for all you beareaucrats) or plenty of other relationships.

Google already has a web services API for doing this type of repurposing of their results. It works through a web protocol called SOAP that allows backend applications to request data it a more compact fashion.

Posted on 7:51 PM by westr015 Web Technologies

Topic: Web Technologies

Collaboration Machine

I've been thinking lately about trying to build a sort of collaboration server. There are quite a few server solutions that fit broadly under the title groupware , but the idea I've been rolling around would be a bit more focused. The application I'm sketching out would be a mix of groupware and social software (a la friendster .) I think this type of system could be really valuable at the scope of the U of M , especially in facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration.

There are tools for folks outside of the U, like the Experts@Minnesota database, yet no tools with the express purpose of bringing together researchers inside the U. Granted, this type of cross-collaboration happens already, but I for one would be excited about more interdisciplinary love.

Posted on 5:04 PM by westr015 Web Technologies

Topic: Web Technologies

So Much To Do...

So little time... There are all kinds of things happening at the U everyday: paper presentations, concerts, human pyramid building. The Events Calendar is a good tool for keeping tabs on a lot of it. But the calendar is a voluntary effort. If The Graduate School is hosting an upcoming lecture on John Adams I have to remember to post that information on the calendar. Granted this isn't too hard to do, but there is this extra verification step... whine

The point is, if there is one, that there are easier and more automatic ways of doing these things. I could create an RSS feed that lists all of the upcoming events for my unit. Everyone that has a feed to offer would only need to notify the calendar site once and subsequently the updating would be automatic.

The current set-up works just fine, of course, but the potential exists for a dramatic synthesis to occur not just for events, but also research, news, etc. Once any system like this reaches a critical mass there is the potential for information to congeal and flow in new and interesting ways. Plus, I wouldn't miss hearing about Bose-Einstein Condensates.

Posted on 5:11 PM by westr015 Web Technologies

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