TED Talk: Pursuit of the Perfect Spaghetti Sauce

This is an older TED Talk by Malcolm Gladwell just before his book Blink dropped. He tells the story about how the food industry figured out that there is not a single perfect product that meets everyone’s needs. Instead there are a number of different clusters that meets the majority of wants.

We find this in the Learning Management System world where there is no perfect product for every student, teacher, department head, dean, or administrator. Maybe just maybe the solution is many different approaches to tools for online learning that meet the needs. The LMS, the Personal Learning Environment, digital textbooks, publisher sites, synchronous communication tools, and anything else an instructor can successfully achieve students mastering course objects probably is good for students. This would suggest the rigor part of Laura Gekeler’s post on LMS Evaluations the most important. But not to arrive at a single LMS but to identify the clusters of needs and what tools best help meet their needs.

Even worse, people will self-report what they like as being what they think we want. So identifying their needs probably is not looking at what they say they need. Analytics probably tells a better story of what is effective.

The mind knows not what the tongue wants. — Dr. Howard Moskowitz

Supported

(This is an post I wrote back in November but didn’t publish…. Until now. Have fun!)

Mitigated speech gets a lot of use by people trying not to offend. All too often, people who have been hurt because of mitigated speech question what isn’t being told as though the omission or gaps are intentionally deceptive.

What are or are not supported browsers came up again. The trick here is the mitigated speech used with the levels of support. I assume the intent is clarity.

  • Certified – supported with complete testing done.
  • Compatible – supported with some testing done.
  • Provisional – supported with some testing done before official release.

Certified is taken as supported by all parties. Compatible and Provisional are interpreted as not supported because the complete testing has yet to be done. I think Blackboard’s intent was to mark them as supported but qualify how customers might encounter issues due to not fully testing. This means Blackboard is interested in learning about the problems encountered in order to address them.

At least that is my interpolation. Mmmmmm the Kool-Aid is good.

Asterisks in the sky


Happy (Con)trails

Originally uploaded by Ezra S F

Flickr member Zack Sheppard did me a huge favor yesterday picking this picture for a Flickr blog about Asterisks in the sky. So in one day this picture was exposed to 5,931 people.

Several of those looked at the adjacent picture and others for a total of 10,640 hits yesterday. Lots of comments on many of my photos.

Wow. Just wow.

TED Talk: Taryn Simon

My favorite quote from Taryn is, “Photography threatens fantasy.” Disney uses intricate interior design, photography, and video to construct fantasy. Advertisements, magazines, weddings, and portraits are about showing others the ideal instead of the reality. Have you seen the Dove Evolution video? (This one has music and singing by a Baha’i musician Devon Gundry.) What about the Ralph Lauren photo?

Reality bites. Hard.

(See Taryn Simon photographs secret sites on the TED site)

TED About this talk: Taryn Simon exhibits her startling take on photography — to reveal worlds and people we would never see otherwise. She shares two projects: one documents otherworldly locations typically kept secret from the public, the other involves haunting portraits of men convicted for crimes they did not commit.

Also: Taryn on Charlie Rose, Discomfort Zone (Telegraph)

Useful User Agents

Rather than depend on end users to accurately report the browser used, I look for the user-agent in the web server logs. (Yes, I know it can be spoofed. Power users would be trying different things to resolve their own issues not coming to us.)

Followers of this blog may recall I changed the Weblogic config.xml to record user agents to the webserver.log.

One trick I use is the double quotes in awk to identify just the user agent. This information is then sorting by name to count (uniq -c) how many of each is present. Finally, I sort again by number with the largest at the top to see which are the most common.

grep <term> webserver.log | awk -F\” ‘{print $2}’ | sort | uniq -c | sort -n -r

This is what I will use looking for a specific user. If I am looking at a wider range, such as the user age for hits on a page, then I probably will use the head command to look at the top 20.

A “feature” of this is getting the build (Firefox 3.011) rather than just the version (Firefox 3). For getting the version, I tend to use something more like this to count the found version out of the log.

grep <term> webserver.log | awk -F\” ‘{print $2}’ | grep -c ‘<version>’

I have yet to see many CE/Vista URIs with the names of web browsers. So these are the most common versions one would likely find (what to grep – name – notes):

  1. MSIE # – Microsoft Internet Explorer – I’ve seen 5 through 8 in the last few months.
  2. Firefox # – Mozilla Firefox – I’ve seen 2 through 3.5. There is enough difference between 3 and 3.5 (also 2 and 2.5) I would count them separately.
  3. Safari – Apple/WebKit – In searching for this one, I would add to the search a ‘grep -v Chrome’ or to eliminate Google Chrome user agents.
  4. Chrome # – Google Chrome – Only versions 1 and 2.

Naturally there many, many others. It surprised me to see iPhone and Android on the list.