Feedback Loops

Remakes don’t scare me. Some are good. Some are bad. 

The thing to remember is, “Its just a movie.” The world won’t end over a poor movie. There’s always another one in a few weeks to either like or hate. If it stands up to the test of time, then you’ll buy the Blue-ray and next three formats over the next 30 years. If not, then just ignore it ever existed… Much like I’ve done with Superman III, Superman IV, Star Trek The Final Frontier, and hundreds of other movies.

Getting worked up over change? Not worth it.

Quibblers would have kept “Star Trek” more like its old self. Quibblers inhibit revolution. Quibblers would deny the basic law of forward motion in pop culture:

If you love something, they will remake it.

But if you really love it, you will set it free, and let them.

The Trouble With Quibbles

Film makers should keep in mind, the types of people involved in  fads: connectors, mavens, salesperson. Fans are mavens. People are going to trust the opinion of these fans. So if the fans’ concerns are just a few quibbles but still an endorsement, then the general public will flock to the movie. If these quibbles amount to wide rejection of the movie by the existing fans, then the general public will mostly stay away from it.

Quibbles are not really the issue. Endorsements are. 

I think you missed that there is a life-cycle to most such endeavors, and feedback is very useful at specific times, and disruptive (in a bad way) at others.

So, the problem with “fan feedback” non-stop is that they tend to fall into a mob mentality, off being “trolls” about any innovation. But, that said, remember that early forms of the Batman movie with the Heath L Joker was shown to fans (at a Comic Con) to get feedback on the style and whether too over the top. The feedback was used to find the balance and deal with the nature of the ending. Fans were given leaks and teasers (semi-trailers) along the way as well, but the mob rule was not allowed not hound the people making it.

That said, what makes a movie work or not is very different from what made its source material work. The reason the Spiderman movies worked for a large audience who knew nothing about the comics had a lot to do with the simpler nature of the comics. Batman has always been more complex in the psychology of its heroes and villains, as much by what does not happen as what does. Watchman is trickier given its narrative model and how much it connected with its time (Cold War, etc).

— PaulK
The Downside of Feedback

Design by committee sucks. So fans should not take over the process. However, total rejection of fan criticisms probably will result in rejection by the fans and slow sales.

Expression Costs

(This started out as a blog comment for Sania’s post Facebook Killed Your Blog. I’m posting it here first.)

We share blogs with the whole world. So our blogs get lost in the noise, bolstering the need for a whole industry optimizing getting found in search engines. Its a concerted effort just get noticed. That’s because blog readers have to seek out blogs to follow, subscribe to the feed, and follow. Finding the best blogs to read is sometimes difficult and more from word of mouth than anything search engines provide.

Blogs also tend to have a lot of information to digest. Social networks have just a line or two with maybe a link to more information. Blog readers typically are designed around the idea of collecting all the posts and letting the user pick which to read. Social networks typically are designed around the idea of just showing recent posts and letting the users choose how far back in time to read.

As technologies lower the costs to express ideas (aka get easier), blogs will get left behind as they have become upside down in value. The costs of writings, reading, subscribing, and commenting on blogs are more expensive compared to micro-blogging or status updates.

Why blog when hanging out on social networks are so much easier? Blogs can only survive as long as they have information worthy.

Why blog when readers are no longer reading? Posting blog entries on social networks does help keep traffic levels somewhat by getting exposure.

As bloggers providing valuable expression leave blogging, the value of blogs decrease. People will still blog. It just won’t be the popular thing to do.

We’ve Got Rats?

Rat Snake This little snake was found in the hallway at work. I thought the commotion was a continuation over the geyser in a sink until GH asked if I brought my pet to work. Went over the see and snagged this before maintenance took it away. Hope he enjoys life on the other side of the road. I wish I had brought my dSLR. It really would have broought out the details. This okay I guess for automatic fash. Here is this one large.

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We’ve Got Rats?

Rat Snake This little snake was found in the hallway at work. I thought the commotion was a continuation over the geyser in a sink until GH asked if I brought my pet to work. Went over the see and snagged this before maintenance took it away. Hope he enjoys life on the other side of the road.

I wish I had brought my dSLR. It really would have broought out the details. This okay I guess for automatic fash.

Here is this one large.

GeorgiaVIEW Mascot?

Rat Snake This little snake was found in the hallway at work. I thought the commotion was a continuation over the geyser in a sink until GH asked if I brought my pet to work. Went over the see and snagged this before maintenance took it away. Hope he enjoys life on the other side of the road.

I wish I had brought my dSLR. It really would have broought out the details. This okay I guess for automatic fash.

Here is this one large.

Update: We apparently disagree about what is a little snake. Smaller than six inches in one camp. Smaller than three feet in another camp. Also, this is being used as a good reason to work from home rather than come to the office. 
🙂

Open Letter to Anyone Who Asks Me a Question

When I preface statements with something like “Used Google to look up <search term>”, it means:

The following is my interpretation of what you are asking. You should do your own research on the search term to better understand the issue. I’m telling you the search term I used to nudge you in what I think is the right direction.

Probably I spent < 10 minutes doing my research. So the quality isn’t of the highest standard. I’m not speaking with authority… Just trying to be helpful.

Update: I don’t generally mean it to be condescending… As in, you should have checked Google before asking anyone about it.

The LMS is So Web 1.5

The claims Blackboard’s Learn 9 provides a Web 2.0 experience has bothered me for a while now. First, it was the drag-n-drop. While cool, that isn’t Web 2.0 in my opinion. A little more on track is the claim:

The all-new Web 2.0 experience in Release 9 makes it easy to meaningfully combine information from different sources. The Challenges Are Real, But So Are the Solutions

Integrating with a social network like Facebook is a start, but again, in my opinion, it still isn’t Web 2.0.

So, what is Web 2.0? I did some digging. I think the Tim O’Reilly approach meets my expectation best. He quotes Eric Schmidt’s “Don’t fight the Internet.” as well as provide his own more in depth.

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I’ve elsewhere called “harnessing collective intelligence.”) Web 2.0 Compact Definition: Trying Again

Users expect a site on the Internet to meet their needs or they eventually move on to a site which does. There are so many web sites out there providing equivalent features to those commonly found in an LMS. There is the danger of irrelevance. This is why every LMS company or group strives to continually add new features (aka innovating). The bar continually gets raised, so LMS software continually needs to meet this higher standard.

Tim additionally provides some other rules which you can see at the above link.

When an LMS reachs the point where the resources of the Internet helps people learn, then it will be a Web 2.0. As long as an expert or leader imparts knowledge on students, the LMS is still something different than Web 2.0. Sorry…. The irony? This is exactly what Michael Wesch and PLE advocates preach.

VistaSWAT

Do you run one of these versions of the former WebCT products?

  • CE4.x
  • CE6.x
  • CE8.x
  • Vista 3.x
  • Vista 4.x
  • Vista 8.x

If so, then you should join us for the next Vista SWAT web conference call Thursday, May 14th (and every other Thursday). We help each other solve issues and better understand how to use / run the product.

To be added to the Vista SWAT e-mail list, please e-mail jeff.longland who uses the uwo.ca domain. He graciously sends out the reminders.

I’m sure the Blackboard acquisition of ANGEL will get discussed.
🙂 

Preserving CE/Vista Settings

I’ve been asked for notes about this a few times. So here’s a blog post instead.
🙂

A coworker is working on scripting our updates. We lost the Luminis Message Adapter settings in applying the patch to the environment we provide to our clients. Fortunately, those settings are maintained by us not our clients. So I pushed those settings back very easily. Unfortunately, it points to the need to capture the settings for the potential purpose of restoring the settings.

In Oracle databases, this is pretty easy. As the schema user, run the following. It does some intentional things. First, we have multiple institutions, so the breaks make identifying which institution easier. Second, the same label for multiple forms gets confusing, so I am sorting by setting description id under the theory these ids are generated at the time the page is created, so the same tools will float together. (The last modified time stamp is probably unnecessary, I used it in an earlier version and left it just in case Vista for whatever reason added a new setting for the same label instead of modifying the existing one.) This can be spooled both before and after the upgrade. Use diff or WinMerge to compare the versions. Anything lost from the before version should be evaluated for inclusion adding back to the settings.

col lc_name format a50
col setting_value format a80
col label format a80
col lock format 999
col child format 999

clear breaks computes
break on lc_name skip 1

select learning_context.name lc_name, settings_description.label, settings.setting_value,
settings.locked_flag “lock”, settings_description.inheritable_flag “child”
from learning_context, settings, settings_description
where settings.settings_desc_id = settings_description.id
and settings.learning_context_id = learning_context.id
and learning_context.type_code in (‘Server’,’Domain’, ‘Institution’,’Campus’,’Group’)
order by learning_context.name, settings.settings_desc_id
/

An example of the multiple forms issue is external authentication. CE/Vista provides an LDAP (A) and an LDAP (B). The settings_description.label for both is contextmgt.settings.ldap.source. The settings_description.name for both is source. It looks like each of the two identical labels has a different settings.settings_desc_id value depending on whether it is A or B. To me it seems lame to use the same label for two different ids.

The most vulnerable parts of the application to lose settings during an update are the System Integration settings. A mismatched Jar on a node will wipe all the settings associated with that Jar.

However, I can see using this to capture the settings as a backup just in case an administrator or instructor wipes out settings by mistake. Yes, this is scope creep. Create a backup of the settings table to actually preserve the settings.

create table settings_backup_pre_sp2hf1 tablespace WEBCT_DATA as select * from settings;

Contexts: As a server admin, I maintain certain settings and push those down. Each client has control over some other settings and may push those down from the institution context. Maybe some are creating division and group admins? Maybe some instructors are changing things at the course or section levels. I may end up capturing everything?

Restoration: The whole purpose of preserving the settings is to restore them later. There are a couple methods in theory:

  1. Providing the settings to a human to re-enter. The labelling issue makes me question the sanity of trying to explain this to someone.
  2. Update the database directly would just need settings.id ensure it is the right location. Maybe dump out the settings in the format of an update command with labels on each to explain the context? Ugh.

If settings were not so easily lost, then this would be so much easier.

View: Another table of interest is the settings_v view. (Redundant?) The only reason I don’t like this view is it reports the values for every learning context which makes reporting off it much, much longer. For example, the encryption key for a powerlink is listed 8 places in settings/settings_description and 18,769 places in settings_v.

USPS Forever

The United States Postal Service keeps raising postage rates. Yet, I still wonder about this statement regarding the 2 cent increase going into effect this year. 

When the postal service announced price increases in February, postal officials estimated the hike will cost the average household $3 a year. Forever Stamps not lasting long: Brisk sales before rate hike | onlineathens.com

To cost a household $3 a year, the household would need to buy 150 stamps a year. That is 12.5 a month! Obviously I am not the average household. I bought a set of 20 Forever Stamps about 2 years ago just after they became available. I just used my 5th one for something today. So projecting at the current usage the next year would cost me 4-6 cents if I didn’t have the Forever Stamps.

That’s not exactly budget breaking….

If Internet usage is causing people not to send mail anymore, then I am an exemplar.
🙂