On Thursday there was a fair bit of tweeting about delicious shutting down. TechCrunch blogged Is Yahoo Shutting Down Del.icio.us? (this post is now updated).

The first thing I did was backup my delicious links.

I’ve got several years worth of delicious links so was a wee bit worried. I also prefer delicious to any other system for saving links I’d seen. It is simple, the interface is clean, the network is useful without turning into another social thing and the API and scripts are useful. I have also used the delicious tools to display sets of links on various webpages (quite a lot in glow) which I don’t want to hunt down and change.

There have been a lot of suggestions for delicious replacements Diigo seems to be a favourite. I looked at this a while ago and, for reasons I can quite recall (probably lack of simplicity), I didn’t stick with it, although a lot of education folk use it. I downloaded Scuttle again and though about setting this opensource delicious like site up but I’ve not done so yet.

Delicious Pinboard

Yesterday I signed up for pinboard this cost about £5 to signup which I hope will mean the service will not go away. I imported my exported delicious link.

I choose pinboard mainly for its delicious like simplicity and the fact it supports the delicious API.

Today things look a little brighter for delicious: delicious blog » What’s Next for Delicious? but I am quite happy to have paid my fiver. I’ve set pinboard to add any new links I post to delicious and set up an email address to post links from my phone. There looks like there are a few more useful features to explore later. I’ll keep using delicious at the moment and see how things go. It is, I feel, a good thing to get occasional reminders about our reliance on free services and to get the opportunity to pay for ones we really need.

Rss From Noun

A while back I noticed More Code Fun: Reading (or ‘to Read’) List – CogDogBlog which pointed to Reading: keeping on top of stuff I save | Helpful Technology The site has a nice byline Digital innovation for people with more sense than money when I grabbed the code to create my reading list.

My reading list pulls together various RSS feeds: my delicious, things live starred in google reader, instapaper & instapaper. I read my google reader and twitter on my phone. I don’t always want to follow the links so star or favourite them for later consumption. The reading list. pulls all of these together. Easy to use and I like the way it combines existing services rather than needing a new one. I’ll easily be able to add other feeds if I want to later on.

This week’s harvest

  • Print With Any Printer From iPad, iPhone – Wired How-To Wiki
    Which I am keeping for later reference. I’ve not felt the need to print from my iPhone in over 2 years of use or from an iPad. In fact I got rid of my home printer a couple of weeks ago (still networked to my wife’s B&W one) because it was gathering dust.
  • I registered for Skype Education as it looks as if it might be interesting.
  • Of the many What to do when you can’t get to school for pupils blog posts Primary Bits and Bytes » Blog Archive » Snow Place Like Home was my favourite, probably because of

    “REMEMBER! Real snow is the best! You should only really be here if you get too cold or fed up with playing out, snowballing or building snowmen!”

  • OOo4Kids looks like it will be worth checking out at work.
  • My Adobe Connect Recipe – CogDogBlog looks very useful for the time that Glow moves to Adobe Connect for video conferencing.
  • I am having an interesting conversation in the glow forums (login required) about video in glow blogs, this provides some food for thought: HTML5 Video Player | VideoJS it amazes me how complicated getting video onto the web is, formats, browsers etc. As someone who doesn’t understand these things it seems to me that the new html5 video tag could surely support more than one video format per browser and clean the whole thing up.
  • yesterday I linked to the NounProject on twitter this collects, organises and adds to the highly recognisable symbols that form the world’s visual language, so we may share them in a fun and meaningful way. The symbols on this site are and always will remain free.

RSS image from used under NounProject Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported

At TeachMeet SLF 2010 I saw Sean Farrell – logging into glow where Sean showed an idea for a simplified login to glow for younger pupils. More recently I saw Automating the Intial Login Process a blog post and associated screencast by Alex Duff an Education Manager at LTS. This helped me with the idea shown in this screencast: an application that helps pupils login for the first time and changes their password and subsequently logging on.

Boos on map

I love Audioboo. We use it as one of the ways to publish to edutalk.cc and I’ve joined in tagging some boos uksm for the UK Sound Map project.

Audioboo must be one of the simplest ways to do audio podcasting and it has many nice features. One of the ones that interests me most is the fact that the RSS feed has geo information in it, that is the location that the boo was recorded in (users can I believe turn this off). I have played about with the google maps api in simple ways (eg some walks) and really like the ability to tell a story in space as well as time.

Yesterday I though I’d have a look at the Audio Boo RSS feed (atom really) and see if I could do something similar.

Since google maps support GEORSS I though I’d give that a try first, pasting my audioboo feed into the search box on google maps give me this map which shows the boos without the audio players (no flash support).

I had forgotten about the audioboo api so just recycled some of my old walks stuff

I made a few Adjustments, I usually use magpie RSS Reader for RSS parsing, but I could not get it to work for the tag, due, I expect, to the colon. I therefore switched to the XMLParser provided by Adam A Flynn. The webpage explains that it can manage tags with dashes and colons but I am not sure how to as it is not in the docs yet (As far as I know). I just replaced georss:point with georsspoint and got on with it. The page is pretty much a mess of php and javascript but it works. I took the lazy way out to put audio players in the Google Map info bubbles, I used the html5 audio tag. That means that pre html5 browsers will not see it but this is not vital stuff. On the walk maps I’ve used an flash player so that is doable too.

I am caching the rss feed from AudioBoo so updates might not appear. It would be easy enough to set this up so that the page would load boos from a user or tag in the url /boo.php?tag=thetag or /boo.php?user=user too, but might effect my bandwidth.

Gmap Icon Shadow

The other interesting thing I found was Shadowmaker a webpage that makes shadows for google map icons which is a nice touch. On the walk maps I never got round to doing that. Shadowmaker makes it so easy that I could not avoid it.

Anyway I think this would be a really nice way to podcast a school trip, once a page like this is in place it will reflect any updates to AudioBoo. You could also make one that would map a boos that were tagged with a particular tag although I don’t think AudioBoo had feeds for tags from a particular user?

I’d love to hear from anyone with a class or school interested in a project like this and lend a hand.

If you are interested in learning about custom google maps I’d recommend the Google Maps API Tutorial.

Another positive of being an airhead was that one or two folk noticed my site was down.


@johnjohnston Flickr CC is down
Thu Dec 02 17:26:13 +0000 2010 from TweetDeck captured: Sun, 05 Dec 10 18:14:33 +0000

And when it came back, in particular A flickr CC search toy, tombarrett tweeted it again with the usual effect, including this one:


@johnjohnston @tombarrett looks good! Have you seen http://bit.ly/hevGEF It’s what we use in FE and HE.
Sat Dec 04 08:35:34 +0000 2010 from Echofon captured: Sun, 05 Dec 10 18:16:31 +0000


I think I had seen Xpert Attribution tool before but it was not at the front of my mind. Looking at it reminded me of the nice way they add attribution by padding the image at the bottom rather than the way I was doing it (stamping over the image). I had tried to work out how to pad an image before but failed. This morning I spent a wee bit of time digging around the PHP: Function Reference and managed to figure out a couple of things, padding the image, and wrapping the text when it is too wide for the image.

Like the rest of A flickr CC search toy the code is surely pretty horrible, but it seems to work.

I also looked over the How do I properly attribute a Creative Commons licensed work? on the FFAQ – CC Wiki again just to make sure I am keeping within the guidelines.

Stamp icons

THe other thing that I’ve changes is to add a 3rd size to the stamped images. I’d avoided the small size as the attribution rarely fitted on the images, now I am padding them they do not present the problem.

Using the stamped image has the advantage of the attribution sticking to the image where ever it goes and as far as online use goes keeping the image under your control an avoilding problems if a user deletes their image when you hot link to flickr.

As always I am interested in any suggested improvements I can make to A flickr CC search toy the idea is still to provide pupils a practical way to use and attribute Creative Commons images from flickr.

Smile at a stranger by Nina Matthews Photography
Attribution License

A couple of folk might have noticed that this blog and site was down for the last couple of days. The first day or two was a problem with the host who fixed things last night. At about the same time as johnjohnston.info came back up I was checking to see if ftp was still working, unfortunately as it turned out, it was.

Somehow while using Cyberduck to browse the site I managed to drag the public_html folder inside another folder. I was intending to download as a backup, I turned round to speak to my wife and when I looked back I could not see the folder. I presumed I must have deleted it, even though Cyberduck asks for confirmation to delete. At that point the site came back up and of course everything was 404. I quickly contacted by host again and asked him to restore from backup. When I woke this morning the backup seemed to have taken place, but the site was missing except for 2 folders.

Again I contacted my host. Having a last look round the site for some reason I opened up the ruby folder, there was my public_html folder safe & sound. I’ve moved it back and all seems fine.

I have done daft things on web servers before this, but this is the silliest I think. Hopefully a lesson learnt.

It also makes me consider my rather haphazard backup strategy. Recently I’ve been editing html etc directly on the server which means no local backups. I download by blogs database occasionally but often images are uploaded while blogging and deleted from my desktop, I guess I should start using flickr all of the time for image storage.

It has also made me realise how much I value this site, mostly for the time spent on various web experiment which never see the light of day but I would not like to lose. I have a fairly robust desktop backup system, Time Machine and SuperDuper! the later has saved me a couple of times. I need something equally robust and idiot-proof for this website.

As I wonderd if schools were open this morning I checked the North Lanarkshire Council : Winter schools daily update webpage which was down so turned to nlcwinter (nlcwinter) on Twitter there were no new updates at that time so I tweeted:

john johnston

@nlcwinter http://www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/winter is down?
Tue Nov 30 07:14:02 +0000 2010 from web captured: Tue, 30 Nov 10 01:59:51 -0600

Very quickly I got this mention:

Intregued I went to isdown (isdown) on Twitter where the profile weblink lead to this tweet:

Guy Kawasaki

Learning from first hand experience this is an interesting search on Twitter: http://tinyurl.com/57fzra
Sat Nov 22 18:24:21 +0000 2008 from TweetDeck captured: Tue, 30 Nov 10 08:01:21 +0000

I am guessing someone is using something like twitterfeed.com : feed your blog to twitter to auto tweet the rss for the twitter search (probably using advanced to skip too much recusion by getting @isdown’s tweets?)

I’ve used twitterfeed.com to post my blog posts to twitter and for @scotedublogs to tweet all the new ScotEdublogs posts but this takes it a bir further, I guess they use the syntax for not including tweets from @isdown itself.

Anyway an interesting way of using twitter that has m thinking a wee bit. I’ve not tried any simpe twitter stuff since the OAuth authentication came in, might be time to have a wee look at it.

Consolerium games guru Charile Love has come up with a pile of interesting stuff linked to his work and glow. A while back he published a guide to Creating Your Custom Glow Theme which has been very useful for me. Recently he has produce a url shortner for glow Glo.li with a web interface, glow webpart: Making Glow Better with glo.li and wordpress pluging and the Internet Explorer and Firefox Toolbar Alphas (with integrated Glow Search) now in beta all very much worth checking out if you use glow.

URL shortners are not necessarly a good thing I don’t think they have much place on blog posts or web pages. There a a couple of places they are handy, twitter with its 140 char limitation and printed material. Newspapers often use them and I’ve found thenm useful for printend notes. I also imagine they are worth using with children in glow. A typical glow url, say:


is not an easy one to put on the board for kids to type;-) http://glo.li/9hzYzG is a lot simpler.

Charlie’s Toolbar has glo.li built in making it really easy to grab a shortened url from any page in fireFox and Internet Explorer. Unfortunatly for me I am pretty welded to the Safari browser so can’t install the toolbar (I guess someone could make an extension for glo.li) but I did already use applescript with tinyurl for shortening links. I am not sure how many other glow users use applescript too but here is how it works:


I commented on Charlie’s blog post asking about acces to gloli via the command line and he kindly explained it to me. I wrapped this up into an appleScript which I assign a keyboard shortcut via FastScripts (I’ve blogged about FastScripts before). Now I just press command-alt-control-g to get the url for the current page displated in Safari onto my clipboard ready to paste. I’ve posted the script and how to do this here: glo.li url shortner applescript just incase anyone is interested. The script does include the easiest/lasziest way to strip html I’ve manged to figure out.

If you are a glow user I suggest that you check out Charlie’s blog straight away.

This post is the third in an attempted series about getting started blogging loosely linked to the launch of glow blogs.

Conversation by Rishi Menon
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

I’e always considered blogging to be 3 pronged activity, providing purpose, gaining an audience and starting a conversation. All of these factors can motivate pupils. Blogging can be seen as a ‘real’ activity, writing for a world outside the classroom. It has a real audience who may start a conversation through comments.

Back in the day when I first started blogging at Sandaig there was not a lot of other classroom blogging going on, none at all in Scotland. This gave my class a bit of an advantage in gaining comments and we picked up a few folk who my class felt they had a relationship to. ‘Andy from Aberdeen’ who regularly added a good number of comments to our new blog and after a while Carol Fuller who became our fairy blogmother!

Comments added a lot to our blogging and podcasting in those days. Now with blogs popping up all over the place, the landscape has changed a bit. One one hand there is a bigger potential audience than before but that audience has more choice.

For a teacher who is already active online gaining an audience is not to difficult, they can publish links and requests for comments on their own blog or through twitter. If you get picked up by the right folk you can gather a lot of comments, i recently and responded to a twitter request for comments on a pupil blog as did many others, in a couple of days the pupils 68 word post had 45 comments!

A lot of the new blogs that are popping up now are not necessarily being run by teachers who have spent a lot of time in creating an online network so how do they get comments for their class? I’d suggest a few basic ideas:

  • In the process of explaining blogs to the class visit other blogs and as a class make comments.
  • Once your class are blogging confidently have them individually comment on other blogs.
  • As a teacher visit a couple of class blogs every week, leave a comment or two. Think of this as a sort of cross marking exercise.
  • As a class visit a particular blog regularly, find one that ‘fits’ in with your class and perhaps some sort of regular commenting will build up.
  • If something on another blog stimulates your pupils curiosity , ask questions, try out the activity, blog about it( example).
  • Respond to comments on your own blog. Often this will provide a useful learning activity and some fun.
  • Get in touch with another blogging teacher, do some lightly joined up planning.

In all of this commenting activity leave the url to your blogs in the URL field of the comment form. Teach the children to copy and paste this rather than typing it in, it is easy to make a typo, or put a semi colon instead of a colon and break the link.

Don’t assume that because children find the technology simple that they will write good comments, in the same way as with blog posts, they need advice and modelling. Some teachers might like to provide rules or a check list:

  1. Is the comment relevant? is it worth saying? (just cool is probably not).
  2. Is it generally positive & friendly? I suggest 2 stars and a wish for classmates work.
  3. Would you like a comment like this?
  4. Is the spelling and punctuation a good reflection on the commenter?

Anne Davis provides some comment starters: EduBlog Insights » Blog Archive » Thinking about the teaching of writing which are well worth sharing with pupils, I think I used to have them displayed on the wall.

If you are looking for somewhere to find blogs ScotEduBlogs aggregates blogs from across Scotland.
Glow blog list can be found for each local authority, for example the url for North Lanarkshire is: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/nl/ each of the other LAs has its own initials at the end of the url (full list).
Further Afield Tom Barrett has be collecting primary class blogs on delicious which provides a great list.

If you know of other ways to encourage commenting you could leave me a comment;-)

A while back I blogged about a simple iPod touch/iPhone web app I was working on for creating images with lunes tamped on them (iPod Touch Poems). Over the last week or two I’ve seen a couple of classes using it:

Both classes had a little problem with the app working properly when add to the iPod Touch home screen. It seems that:

<meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes" />

Had crept back into the html. I’d found earlier that if this is present it stops he download of an image, and hence the poem, to an iPhone or iPod Touch’s Photos.

Please let me know if you use the lunes app and any problems (or success) you have. leave a comment here or tweet @johnjohnston.