Mar 25

Today: 25-Mar-2009: The times they are a changing

Category: today

Today was a mixed bag with a few different things going on.

I will start with the UniHIRTS/USQSafe system. We put in a time estimate for the work to do and we ended up getting an email back stating that the risk matrix feature request is actually a risk assessment system. A few emails back and forth turned out that by risk assessment they really meant two dropdown boxes which was all that I was thinking anyway. So that was fun.

There was also some work with Moodle SSO using the MoodleNet integration with both Moodle and ePortfolio we can easily come from Moodle into our ePortfolio site however we cant easily go back into Moodle the issue is that there is no way of identifying that the user is the see in both systems. In my view the way of solving this is to use the standard USQ SSO system for authentication which both Moodle and ePortfolio can trust (Moodle already trusts it for authentication anyway) and to seemlessly transfer between the systems we just use the USQ SSO system and it will handle the identification process.

If that wasn’t enough Moodle for the day we had so e issues with a user trying to post to a forum and having it fail with an unknown error. It turns out that there was a problem quoting the posting properly to work with Oracle. So I’ll have a look at that on Friday or maybe Monday but we should have a work around temporarily for the student in question.

To end the day i had a chat about ePrints with the manager of information systems at the library. We are having fun with the Office of Research and Higher Degrees with a system of theirs called RPCS which stores information about papers that are written by the University. ePrints also does this however more for the goal of making the documents publically available as opposed to making decisions from the information. Interestingly now the government wants to assign funding based on how much research and published materials the universities make. The Office thinks that they have some matching code that they can use to make crossreferencing the ID’s in the two systems not so tedious. So we had a chat about that shortly and we’ll see what happens next week when we have a meeting with all of the parties involved.

To round out my day we had a meeting on presenter again. There are a few issues such as that the system is mildly tempermental though in all fairness the lecturers aren’t using the tool in a way that was intended by (badly) embedding video into their Powerpoint, in some cases crashing Powerpoint, switching out of application to other applications or the browser (works if you alt-tab out). There are also other issues with the system but at the end of the day the lecturers don’t want something to baby sit their Powerpoint presentations they want something to basically recorder their screen as they go backwards and forwards through their presentation or as they swap in and out
of their presentations and have support for video. It seems the University already has a product that does most of the things that we need. The product, Camtasia Relay, has an interesting pricing model where the client is free but the server that handles the conversion on the number of concurrent jobs that can run. I’m not entirely sure how this works though because if we throw enough grunt at the problem why would we need more items or how concurrent jobs increase throughout when in most bulk conversion systems I’ve built personally built adding concurrent jobs on the same server slowed the process down to more than running them one at a time. Perhaps it works with concurrent servers and allows parallel execution with multiple servers. But one of the interesting features of the system is that it integrates with iTunes U. iTunes U is a special version of the normal iTunes that integrates to provide university content in the same friendly interface. I did a few calls around the place and found that as a member of the Apple University Consortium (AUC) we qualify for it and have already been asked if we were interested in taking part and not much happened. So if we can pick this up easily and do a good value add it will help to solidify the Camtasia option.

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