Watermarks

So far I have either been oblivious or lucky. Some people like my pictures which could mean they are downloading them and even representing them as their own. No amount of HTML or JavaScript technology can prevent this. Even watermarks have questionable efficacy as people get better.

Google’s Picasa is my current image editor. With it, I am able to manipulate photographs easily prior to posting them online. For everything it does, Picasa does a fantastic job. One of two things* it lacks is adding a watermark. If it automatically did this at the time a photo was saved, then I would definitely be a happy user. Maybe it will hit the features of Picasa 3?

Years ago, I knew how to do add a nice watermark in seconds with Photoshop 6 and 7. Over the last hour or so I have been playing with GIMP to accomplish the same. This has been slow going. First, in GIMP 2.2.3, the software crashed each time I opened the text tool. Now that I am on 2.4.5, the text tool works. Second, I have not found anything similar to the hand tool.

I followed a GIMP watermarking tutorial for one as it was better detailed than another I attempted to follow and was frustrated at not being able to find what it told me to use.

So, I am curious…. What do you use for watermarking your images?

* The other is splicing together multiple images.

Wrong Number

A ticket our Blackboard technical support manager marked as really urgent was picked up by another technical support person who left a note about calling me. Except, the familiar phone number called wasn’t my office number or even my cell number. Nope, it is the office number at my previous job. Yup. I have not worked there in over two years. Yet, no one at WebCT or Blackboard has updated my contact information so Blackboard employees can find me. Isn’t the whole point of having my phone number to be able to call me? It is okay. As it is the end of the work day I was headed home anyway.
🙂

Sorry, Andy, if they left a message….

Open Letter to Users of Email Autoresponders

Hi,

Some people work in positions requiring high amounts of near constant contact. There is technology for this. One popular is the Blackberry which allows the user to no longer sit in front of the computer all the time.

If more than one person is capable of doing the job you do, then set up an email alias. Such aliases can direct a message to multiple recipients. This means should you be out of the office, then your coworker can pick up the slack. No need to set up an autoresponder.

Do you really trust the world to know you are out of town for a week? That screams Come find my house and take all my stuff while I am away. Thanks!

Finally, if I email a discussion email list and not you specifically, then do you really need to tell me that you are out of the office?

Ezra

Artificial !Always= Better

I fit the criteria of obese. My weight is not an obsession. I lost a good 20 pounds in a few months by making sure to walk 1.5-2 miles 4-5 times a week and not eating many calories. Thing is…. I am lazy. So I put that weight right back on after not maintaining the habit. Working in a sedentary job doesn’t help.

I keep being told I need to drink Diet Pepsi. My thought to that is, I’ll kill myself first. That artificial sweeteners are linked to weight gain gives me a new salvo in return fire. Everyone I know who uses the “Diet” soft drinks as part of their weight loss plan don’t seem to do very well. Only those who cut out all soft drink all together did well.

What is in a Program Description?

 

The B.S. in Professional Studies online program will enable students to acquire expertise in significant areas of contemporary professional life, and is equally relevant in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Coursework for the major is constructed around five areas of study – social science (understanding people in a diverse world), critical thinking, creativity, communication, and business. The curriculum is designed to enable students to become professionals in their field of choice, building on their prior education and experience. Drexel University Launches a Unique Online Degree For Professionals 

Does this sound like BS to you too?

Last week I said “pretty much only your parents care about your major as bragging rights to their friends“. The critical explanation is the last sentence, which I read to mean This is your last shot at getting a degree and going out to the work force because you suck as a student. You are hopeless at Chemistry, Sociology, or even Philosophy. So… take this degree and go get a job. Thanks for the money!

Love of Life Long Learning

Found this quote interesting.

I’d guess the same is true for most college graduates. Tell me, what’s the point of spending 60-80 hours a week learning things that you immediately forget? Why I regret getting straight A’s in college

College is about developing a love of life long learning. Hopefully, after four years of intensive studying, the student should learn to love the acquisition of knowledge. They will continue with their education and earn graduate degrees as well! Wishful thinking, perhaps?

No one explains to students a major only really matters in some cases:

  1. Getting an engineering, a research, or another highly specialized job. Otherwise, pretty much only your parents care about your major as bragging rights to their friends. No one majors in Sales.
  2. Getting into a graduate program. Its easier to start a graduate program by having a related degree. Many will allow candidates to take senior undergraduate classes to catch up with the people who took the major. Why take them in grad school when you could have taken them as your major?

Students sadly expect picking a major to open the doors they need to get a job. The piece of paper mostly represents the former student’s commitment to working through the worst bureaucratic nightmare humans have ever created. Next, it represents the student’s mastery of basic concepts in an area (continue on through the Ph.D. / M.D. / J.D. / Ed.D to be an expert). College isn’t about getting you a good job. Its about helping you become a better person.

I figured this out my Freshman year as I was figuring out what I wanted to pick for my major. Explaining it to my friends really pissed off a few. They felt they’d were wasting their time in classes they would never use. Personally, I don’t think I’ve taken a class I have not used in some way. Of course, I really do have a love of learning, so maybe college worked for me.

tag: ,

Coradiant TrueSight

Several of us saw a demo of Coradiant Truesight yesterday (first mentioned in the BbWorld Monitoring post). Most of the demo, I spent trying to figure out the name Jeff Goldblum as one of team giving the demo had the voice and mannerisms of the actor’s characters. Had he mentioned a butterfly, then I definitely would have clapped. The other reminded me of John Hodgman.

Something I had not noticed at the time, but a reoccurring point of having Truesight is to tell our users, “Here is evidence the problem is on your end and not ours.” This assumes the users are rational or will even believe the evidence. They wish the problem never occurred (preference) and a resolution (secondarily). Preventing every problem, especially issues outside our domain, probably is outside the scope of the budget we receive. So, we are left with resolving the issues. Especially scary are the users who take evidence the problem is on their end or their ISP’s end to mean, “This is all your fault.”

Resolutions we can we offer are:

  1. Hardware change – We can replace or alter the configuration of the hardware components of the network, storage, database, or application.
  2. Software change – We can alter the configuration of the software components of the network, storage, database, or application.
  3. Request a code change from a vendor – We can work with our vendors to get a code change. These take forever to implement.
  4. Suggest a user resolve the issue
    1. We can provide a work around (grudgingly accepted, remember the preferred wish is the problem never occurred).
    2. We suggest configuration changes the user can make to resolve the problem.

Truesight provides us information to help us try to resolve issues. Describing the information provided as “facts” was a nice touch. At Valdosta State, I gave up on users reporting the browsers accurately and captured the information from the User-Agent header. Similarly, at the USG, I’ve found users disagree ~30% of the time about the version of the browser according to the User-Agent string. Heck, they have errors in the name of the class ~40% of the time. My favorite is something took 15 minutes, but all I could find was it took four minutes. Ugh. Because Truesight is capturing the header info, it ought to be much easier to confirm what users were doing and where problems occurred more accurately than the users can describe.

After receiving all the “facts”, we still have to determine the cause. Truesight helps us understand the scope of the problem by how many users, how many web servers, and how many pages are affected by slowness to what degree. As a DBA and administrator, my job identifying cause ought to be easier, though quantifying how much easier probably is difficult to say.

Part of why: (Mostly speculation.) Problems identified as a spike in anything other than “Host” are external causes. These are causes in front of the device. Causes behind the device are “Host”. If these were more narrowly broken down, the maybe we could better determine cause. That would require knowledge web browsers typically would not know like the server processing time, query processing time, or even the health of the servers.

tag: Blackboard Inc, Coradiant, , user agent,

Social Marketing

Normally, I consider John Dvorak a crotchety old-timer who doesn’t get human-computer interaction due to his myopic self-centered view. (His use isn’t usually my use, so he gripes seem inapplicable.) Finally, he got one right… almost. In his most recent blog post… er… opinion article, he described people using social networks as “marketing” themselves. Actually, the phrasing is identity management. People use these online tools to appear better than who they really are. Well… Duh. I’ve always thought I should use technology, especially social networking tools, to control what others think about me.

Back in the old days, as a Webmaster, I discovered the friend of a friend of a friend had a LiveJournal (one of the first social network sites, predating even Friendster) blog where she posted a bit of her art work from her classes. I’m not a freelancer, so I gave her some of the freelance web design leads which she turned into experience to help her get a real graphic design job. Rands might just be understanding getting a job is a potential use of Twitter. Given employers Google their job candidates, why not? I am sure there are many reasons for why one should strive to maintain a positive image for those taking the initiative to check.

The technology is new, but the purpose is as old as natural selection. We all wish to succeed. Stone tools allowed my distant ancestors to accomplish monotonous tasks faster than others and attract more advantageous mates. Maybe social networks are the modern stone tools?

Certification Courses

Today I received an email announcing new certification courses from Blackboard. Every administrator around our system did as well. We have a large body of certified trainers and administrators with multiple individuals at every campus who have been through the certification plus all the functional support have been through both training and admin certification.

I’m not a big fan of certifications as a way of determining what people know. I do think having so many people go through the certification has allowed us to use jargon consistently. Pre-cert, we’d have to waste time explaining what the jargon means. Post-cert, everyone seems to understand these terms. Sure, we are constantly expanding the terms used, but its nice to have a common basis.

Back to the email…. Here are the certifications mentioned in the email:

  • Blackboard Learning System™ GUI Administrator Certification
  • Blackboard Learning System™ Server Administrator Certification (NEW)
  • Campus Edition GUI Administrator Certification
  • Vista GUI Administrator Certification

The points of the message were, I think to announce the new “server administrator” certification and remind people about the existing ones. Initially I was interested because I thought it meant there is a new certification for Vista, whose license name is Blackboard Learning System™ – Vista Enterprise Edition (say that 3x fast), but no… Its just for Academic Suite.

I think Blackboard’s marketing department should do a better job of understanding which products their customers use. Highlighting to over 60 people here in Georgia they are offering cool things to the clients who were not spoils of the WebCT buy isn’t helping Blackboard.

tag: , Blackboard Inc, WebCT

links for 2007-10-31