First-step with Yahoo! Pipes

I’ve been reading a lot recently about Yahoo! Pipes so I thought I’d give it a try myself. I created a simple feed aggregator by merging the RSS feeds for my Google reader starred items,, and the RSS feed for this together and output as a new feed. I had to do some minor manipulation, for example to remove duplicates (which you get when you star, bookmark or link-blog the same item) and to sort the merged feeds into descending order of publication date. Then I took the output of the resulting feed and added it to my iGoogle page. The result is a nice summary of my recent activities.

This was a very quick experiment, and I’m sure there’s a lot more that you can do: for example, only the link title and URL is captured, not the text, nor any multimedia content. But it’s very easy to use and worthy of further experimentation.

We ignore digital media at OUr peril: the movie

In a follow-up to his blog article on Digital Media (reported in my article about serendipity), OU Educational Technologist Tony Hirst has used the web 2.0 site SplashCast to mash up a presentation with the cited videos. Here’s Tony’s blog article, and here is the presentation. The end result serves both as an interesting introduction to the educational possibilities of digital media and an interesting case study of what can be done with access to video sharing sites and the web.

The view from here

Seen in today’s Guardian is news of the impending July 27th release of the BBC’s new content-on-demand iPlayer. Unfortunately, acording to the article and Guardian blogger Bobbie Johnson, it won’t run on Vista which adds it to a growing list of essential software (which includes Quicktime and iTunes) which won’t run on my newly upgraded laptop. Still, we still have XP on the computer at home so next time we miss an episode of Dalziel and Pascoe because of a recording clash on the Sky+ box, all will not be lost!

Mr Brown’s Arrival

It’s not technology related, but the arrival of new Gordon Brown as new PM, ought to be marked somehow, even if a day late! My personal Brown story: I was once within three feet of Gordon in the ticket hall of the Paddington Station underground. He was in the opposition then, so got around using public transport. I don’t suppose he’d remember me.

(image originally published on the BBC news web site.)

Social Software: Scary Monsters?

So we’re all agreed. Blogs: good; email: bad. Wikis: good; sending round attachments to a dozen people and then having to merge all the changes by hand afterwards: bad.

This one goes out to all my colleagues who really do want to send out attachments by email and merge changes manually. (No, I tell a lie, they want to send out printouts of documents and merge red-lined versions back into the electronic documents manually!) Here’s a presentation by Suw Charman (note no Powerpoint!!) recorded at Google HQ and released in the Google TechTalks series that spells out the barriers to social tools and why it might be good to embrace change. This is why I live my life on the web: welcome to my world!
(Note: video is 55 minutes long, so lock the door, take the phone off the hook and grab a coffee before hitting play.)

Also discovered

New blog entry on the Learning Lab is a related item about using Google docs for collaborative writing. This might actually work for us!

Social Networks in Plain English

Just published by Lee LeFever on the CommonCraft site is a new “paper works” video on Web 2.0. This time its social networking: which apparently is all about finding a life partner or finding a job. Since, in my case, I’m happy with both, I fear that social networking has little to offer. Still, enjoy the video.

Next Big Language (NBL)

Following a link in Stefan Tilkov’s blog to another blog entry by John Lam which claims that Rails has been ported to JavaScript by Steve Yegge of Google, I came across this intriguing article by Mr Yegge published back in February. He gives a lot of hints but doesn’t actually name the NBL: but from the speculation in the comments and now this announcement, it looks like it might have been JavaScript!


InfoQ has published an article on the blogosphere’s buzz around Steve Yegge‘s presentation of the JavaScript (Rhino) port of rails at FooCamp. The article quotes heavily from Steve’s own posted response to all of the interest. But I find Steve’s work interesting mainly because it reveals the unexpected power of the Rhino JavaScript interpreter which of course is built in to Java SE 6 and runs on the JVM on the server.

A Day in the (2.0) life (Part 4)

### Serendipity: or the fundamental interconnectedness of all things

> [The World Wide Web is] the only thing I know of whose shortened form — www — takes three times longer to say than what it’s short for. – Douglas Adams

When reading [my river of news](, I often come across interesting cross-links and related ideas. (I guess because I am reading lots of sources there are *bound *to be some that are related.) Nevertheless, I am often struck by how mysteriously [serendipitous]( these discovered links often are! Take for example my experience today. Early in my feed reading I came across this [blog entry]( in the [Learning lab]( about how *not *to make PowerPoint presentations. Later on, I found Tony Hirst’s [article]( about Digital Media which included that video, as well as [this example of a good PowerPoint presentation]() that I’d seen and [bookmarked]( some time ago, and much else beside. As [Dirk Gently]( would probably say “be open to the *fundadamental interconnectedness of all things*.”

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Web 2.0 for Education

A couple of interesting articles were posted on [Read/WriteWeb]( on Friday. In the first, Richard MacManus [discusses ]( support platforms (including [Elgg]( which we use at my [institution]( In the second Josh Catone [discusses]( the range of Web2.0 tools that are available to students as a sort of portable, always connected “backpack”. Although the first article provides a useful overview of some of the key ideas and platforms being used in “e-learning 2.0″, in many ways the second is more interesting; it provides links to web2.0 applications that may be useful to colleagues at the chalk face as well as students. In an impressive survey, Josh covers office replacements, note taking, mind mapping, bookmarking, collaboration, calendars, calculators, and bibliography tools. All free, and all on the web. I’ll be checking out some of these for sure.

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Roumen on recording high quality screencasts

[Roumen Strobl]( is a Netbeans “evangelist” who works for Sun in Prague. He produces the [Netbeans Podcast]( and numerous screencast demos of the [Netbeans IDE]( In this very [useful article]( he explains how he creates screencasts (like [this one]( and it’s well worth reading to find out how a professional does it!

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