USG Annual Computing Conference

Some of you may have noticed me posting on Twitter using the #usgre10 hashtag. This was the recommended tag to use when posting about the conference.

In talking to a director at a university in the University System of Georgia, he said something interesting which had been said to my CIO, “More good for the USG will be accomplished here at Rock Eagle in these two days then the rest of the year.” (This sounds like When Ideas Have Sex or Where Good Ideas Come From.) This conference had been canceled due to lack of funding from both internal and corporate sponsorship. Due to demand from many universities, the conference was restored.

First, one-on-one conversations happen which might not otherwise occur. My former boss at Valdosta State asked me about a decision my group had made which his assistant director kept pushing back as unacceptable. He explained what he’d understood. I explained what I understood. Suddenly it made more sense to him. I was then able to explain it to the assistant director so she understood. A huge problem went away from 15 minutes of conversation? That is a huge win-win for everyone.

Second, getting to see sessions on the work being done at other schools in the system I wish I knew was being done. UGA developed a tool called El Cid which accomplishes many of the needs we have with one “institution” with 43 different administrators because multiple schools participate in various programs. The administrators were provided rights I disagree are appropriate because their needs are not available at the level where they do have access. El Cid could allow them to do those things for their areas without having the rights to mess up other areas.

Third, criticism which might not otherwise be expressed. As much as it pains me to hear it, I do need to hear the complaints people have about the products we run, the service we provide, and the planned directions. With the phone calls, tickets, emails, surveys, and other communication we do, it seems like what is being done is okay. However, get those same people into a room and the criticism comes flooding forth. This is the food we need understand so we can make improvements.

UPDATE: 2010-OCT-22 at 17:12

Fourth, the wishlists which might otherwise languish. I suspect people are hesitant to put requests in writing which might be negative. We like tickets because they can be tracked and provide a history. However, we also put requirements on opening a ticket like the section, the users, and the time. These requirements mean people may not open a ticket because they do not have enough information. They also may not open a ticket because these requirements make it sound like the bar is extremely high to warrant of spending the effort. The act of speaking to me eliminates the filter.

Fifth, while we have email, phone, instant messenger, wikis, Twitter, (and soon Sharepoint and Office Communicator,) etc., the reality is none of these methods establish the strong social bonds we get from face-t0-face. A strong community has social bonds as the foundation. These tools work well when the social bonds are already there.

Rock Eagle Debrief

GeorgiaVIEW

  1. SMART (Section Migration Archive and Restore Tool) created for us by the Georgia Digital Innovation Group seemed well received. I’m glad. DIG worked tirelessly on it on an absurdly short schedule.
  2. Information is strewn about in too many places. There isn’t one place to go for information. Instead between Blackboard, VistaSWAT, and GeorgiaVIEW about 29. I amazed I do find information.
  3. Blackboard NG 9 is too tempting for some.
  4. Vista does DTD valdiation but not very well. We need to XML validation before our XML files are run. As we do not control the source of these files and errors by those creating the files cause problems, we run them in test before running in production. I am thinking of something along the lines of validating the file and finding the errors and reporting to the submitter the problems in the file. Also, it should do XML schema validation so we can ensure the data is as correct as possible before we load it.
Yaketystats
  1. If you run *nix servers, then you need Yaketystats. I have been using it for 2 years. It revolutionized how I go about solving problems. If you are familiar with my Monitoring post, then this is the #2 in that post.
That is all for now. I am sure I will post more later.

Rock Eagle Wrap-Up

Index of posts:

  1. RE 2007: GeorgiaVIEW Meeting (Pre-Conference)
  2. RE 2007: Birds of Feather: GeorgiaVIEW Vista
  3. RE 2007: Top Ten Disruptive Trends
  4. RE 2007: Birds of a Feather: Luminis
  5. RE 2007: Administering Sakai
  6. RE 2007: GeorgiaVIEW Vista File and Content Sharing
  7. RE 2007: USG Digital Content Repositories: Resources to Share

After this point, I got wrapped up in other things, moderating, fireworks, a Texas Hold ‘Em tournament, and dealing with tickets. The above are all sessions which affect my area even tangentially. Hope you enjoy.

RE 2007: Top Ten Disruptive Trends

Rock Eagle 2007

Keynote – David Cearley, Gartner

Way too many unfamiliar acronyms an terminology. It moved really fast without spending much time to explain anything.

Disruptive trends selected by timing, speed, and likelihood.

  1. Multricore to fabric – Core on processors will double every two years through 2015. Applications will have to adapt to multi-cores. Software licensing around cores, influences purchasing. Sets the stage for hybrid systems where power core and cell processor cores integrated. 3D chip (cube of cores) is coming. Next evolution in blade technology is to have shared memory. Fabric allows dynamic allocation and partioning of memory and processors and I/O for servers.
  2. Tera-Archicture Compute Element – Self-assembling and self-managing applications.
  3. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) – Developers will create modularized applications for a dynamic, flexible environment. They will need new tools, training, vizualization. Way platforms are built change. Vendors will not off the components, instead, we will need to create these ourselves. Pervasive… It will hit every level of the enterprise.
  4. Open Source – Development tools, Application Servers, Security, Operating Systems currently hold the most maturity. It will have viable alternatives for 80% of software choices.
  5. Web 2.0 – Biggest disruption over next 10 years as it has been the last 10 years. Web 2-.0 – applications built on web tech and design prin that may exploit community based development and social networking and/or new web-based business models. Long-term journey for increasing community, business involvement. Web Oriented Architecture = SOA + WWW+ REST. WOA replaces complex public API calls in current SOA model in favor in simple interfaces.
    1. Mashups – Composite applications on the web. Classic portal model built complex APIs. Mashups use WOA using RSS and Atom to provide feeds of info. Typically used in simple, high value applications.
    2. Web Platform – Everything as a service. Service providers offering infrastructure. Google and IBM offering a service to universities to build applications using the Googleplex infrastructure and IBM support.
    3. Symantic Web – Microformats – Simple way offering metadata.
  6. Social software – RS, podcasts, folksonomies, blogs, wiki, social bookmarks, content rating, prediction parket, taste sharing, social networks. The Participatory Web. Threadless makes user designed teeshirts sold back to users. How can we create communities and harness the power of the collective. Start with a purpose. Nuture the community. Open socially mediated spaces work better than technically managed systems. Have a tipping point plan.
  7. Netowrk Virtual Worlds – Games – People are 3D, have a profound impact on people.
  8. Displays – UIs are changing.
  9. Video – Counterfeit reality – how are you sure video has not changed?

RE 2007: GeorgiaVIEW Meeting (Pre-Conference)

I am blogging from the pre-conference GeorgiaVIEW meeting @ Rock Eagle yesterday afternoon and this morning. I enjoy connecting with people around the state of Georgia who use our Vista system. Most of them do not make it to BbWorld. Some hot topics:

  • Alternatives to Blackboard Vista
  • Training
    • Content repository
  • Returning Reports and Tracking to instructors.
    • Some reports still failing. One approach may be to remove tracking data from Vista database and make it available elsewhere.
  • Upgrade to Vista 4. People want a timeline, access to a training instance ASAP, please not do an in-place upgrade.
    • Limited shelf life on internals of Vista 3 / 4.0 – 4.1.2
    • More of customers have moved or are moving to Vista 4 / CE 6 than a year ago.
    • Can take advantage of new tools available in Vista 4.
    • Data retention – policy, reponsibilities (faculty, campus, OIIT)
    • Phased approach – parallel environments, at some point Vista 3 goes away and no longer available.
    • End of Fall 2008 or Spring 2009.
  • People are both quite happy we are going to Vista 4 and disconcerted at the prospect of having to move to Vista 4 in even over a year from now (at the worst by April 2009).
    • Export / import of non-SIS created users.
    • Training

Lovely (yeah a real person and she is) says Lovely Freelove would be one of the best names ever.