Posts tagged posters

This Wednesday, after much debating, debacle and delay, the new Uni Shop opened its doors 20 minutes late. The final delay apparently caused by the fact that nobody had thought to turn the tills on before the opening time.

The Uni Shop's Logo

All that aside, I’ve got to ask an important question – given the time taken, the fuss made and the money kicking around could Estates not have come up with a better logo? I mean, it’s not like we’ve got an entire faculty full of art and design students or a whole staff department focussed on marketing. Let’s have a little competition. Who can come up with something better in 10 minutes?

Now, back to ICT and what’s going on. Our shiny new development server has mostly turned up, and we’re currently kitting it out with the wide range of software we use to develop and manage our projects. Once that’s done we hope to burst onto the scene with a shiny new URL and a whole load of bits of things we’re working on for you to prod, look at and go “ooooh pretty”. We’re hoping to call this ‘Labs’, or at least something along a similar theme (we think it might be a bit close to ‘Learning Lab’) and use it for all the bits and pieces that are being tried out from the ‘official’ side of the University – new timetable tools, easier ways of doing things, work-in-progress site replacements and so-on.

First out of the door will be CWD and Posters, with a few more bits and pieces we’ve been working on in our secret computing laboratory (MAB, first floor, north-west plate) coming soon after.

Last week I headed off to a conference in London called Dev8D, where I met a few hundred other developers from the HE sector (and others) and spent my time brainstorming ideas, messing about with RFID tags, mashing data together, attending workshops on the future of data representation, writing an iPhone app, learning to use the Force, drinking far too much complementary tea and coffee and fighting the mess that is the Underground on a weekend. In short, it was awesome fun. Out of it I’ve gleaned loads of useful bits and pieces which I can now use to push the bits of the University that I can get my hands on into the future with impunity, because somebody else has already done the research and I now know who.

Next up, Posters. We’re still waiting for our new development server on which the Online Services Team can develop, stage, test and show off our latest inventions. Once that’s up and running you’ll be able to have a go at breaking it and we’ll be open for feedback. Posters will also be the first production University site (albeit beta) to use our new CWD 2.0, and will also be providing data as RSS in the initial release, with JSON and XML further down the line. The ability for groups such as student societies to add posters, along with a streamlined online approval process, will be in place ready for once Posters leaves beta.

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This week has been one of tidying up loose ends. LUNA has had several minor HTML and typo fixes, and is currently undergoing a bit of JavaScript development wizardry to let users select their location during registration. JSON data from the server encodes how rooms, apartments and blocks are organised which is then extracted by the magic of jQuery into something usable. I’ve got the basics working (and the full thing if I generate a lot of unnecessary files), now it’s just a bit more work on extraction of arrays from within the JSON.

In other LUNA nonsense, working out which combination of technical features to use to let people provide feedback on Phase 2 changes (the compulsory anti-virus and anti-malware) is proving challenging and may lead to a new server being temporarily put together just for handling the feedback. I’m going to push for a LAMP stack, but since Lincoln is a Windows shop I’m not holding my breath.

Finally, balls are rolling on my posters project – a meeting for scoping and specification is booked where key parties can bang heads together until we get something reasonable before I begin doing hardcore implementation stuff.

Now, back to JSON.

Well, it’s been an exciting day today. Riseholme library and the Hull campus closed early, persistent if not particularly heavy snow over Lincoln, people going home stupidly early to avoid the chaos, and a continuation of the ongoing saga of getting LUNA working.

Our new date for deployment is… (drum roll)… Thursday 7th January. As long as nothing else goes wrong, the pages work and our server guy makes it through the snow.

Now, a quick mention of my next project: A website providing an electronic copy of all of the posters you normally see littered around campus, giving you a one-stop location to get all those details you were walking too quickly to remember. More on that later, I’m off to fight the snow now!

Building on some earlier work (but in a more official capacity this time) I think I should share some of the artwork I want to scatter around the University to help advertise Get Satisfaction. So, here goes.

As always, feedback is welcome.

Okay, it’s been a while, so here’s a roundup of what’s going on in the land of Nick.

Get Satisfaction

My never-ending quest to get the University using Get Satisfaction seems to be nearing an end with the news that we will very soon (Monday!) be getting on the basic level of subscription services. This brings all kinds of cool new stuff to the service, including more moderation tools (so we can keep the conversation relevant and better manage how we respond to things), the ability to flag student reps as awesome (so more people listen to them), extra branding opportunities (so you know it’s about Lincoln), more widgets (for letting people use Get Satisfaction from within other sites) and most importantly the support of the University!

Now all we need is a cool name. So far thoughts include feedback.lincoln.ac.uk, thoughts.lincoln.ac.uk, qipp.lincoln.ac.uk, comments.lincoln.ac.uk and my personal favourite (although highly unlikely) wtf.lincoln.ac.uk – anybody got any more ideas or preferences? Let me know.

Print From My PC

Our ‘wireless printing’ service is still on track for a week 6 soft launch, although we’re experiencing some interesting glitches with printing from Ubuntu and other Linux flavours since they don’t trust our certificate provider. Kirsty took a brief wander around the library to work out where we could put posters advertising the service and you should hopefully see them appearing soon (so that you can break things and complain at us).

Lincoln University Network Access

This is a new one – LUNA is the name for an updated network access controller which will be rolling out to Student Village after the Christmas break. It includes improved security, better guidance on what to do when things go wrong, and (best of all) redesigned pages so you still feel like you’re within the University. Guess who’s been tasked with dismantling the existing pages, figuring out how they work and redesigning them all? Yup, it’s me!

All in all it’s a load of exciting things going on here in ICT. Hopefully once Get Satisfaction is working I can get cracking on another Service 2.0 thing (I want to see if there’s something I can do with the helpdesk…), there are some big enhancements to timetabling floating around in the cloud, and there’s a huge (and I mean huge) set of changes to student communications in the pipeline.