Here are some of the things I’ve tagged classroom over the summer holidays.

Featured image: my own, I spent a fair bit of the summer trying to get close to butterflies.

As part of my summer holiday fun with WordPress I though I might create a ‘proper’ RSS feed for my microcast.

There are quite a few podcast plugins that would do the job but I though it might be interesting to try a bit of DIY.

Back when I started a class podcast at Radio Sandaig I used to create the RSS feed by hand with a text editor and a fair bit of copy and paste. Over at Edutalk we use feedburner to massage the feed for iTunes.

I used information from How to Roll Your Own Simple WordPress Podcast Plugin | CSS-Tricks to get me started with the template.

I copied the feed-rss2.php file from the wp-includes folder to my child theme folder renaming it feed-microcast.php

wp-content/themes/sempress-child/feed-microcast.php

I adjusted the query to get the posts from my microcast category. I also hard coded the title, link, image and a few other things to simplify the process a little.

I then used the template from CSS-Tricks as a guide to adding the various podcast tags to my template.

This ended up with a pretty broken feed, mostly due to my lack of care, but I fixed it up later I got it linked up.

I didn’t want to use the custom post type approach used in the article because that would involve editing all the old posts or converting them to the new type somehow.

My first idea was to create a feed template and switch to that when the RSS feed for my microcast category was called for.

After failing to get the template to switch for the standard category feed, /category/microcast/feed I ended up with a custom feed at /feed/microcast.

and I add

add_action('init', 'customRSS');
function customRSS(){
        add_feed('microcast', 'customRSSFunc');
}

function customRSSFunc(){
        get_template_part('feed', 'microcast');
}

to my functions.php file.

I then spent a bit of time using the W3C feed validation service until I fixed the feed up to valadate.

I’ve still got to get a link to the feed into the microcast category page head tag and I hope to do that as soon as I’ve gone a bit of research. For now I’ve a link in the sidebar.

Here is the template: WordPress RSS feed template for my microcast

Day 7

A bit over a week ago I got a tweet from Athole

The premise is simple enough, for 7 days you take a B&W image, tweet it and ask someone else to join in.

I did:

Day 7 is the featured image of this post.

What is interesting about this project is that there is no hashtag. You get mentions from the folk you invite, if they take the invite up and perhaps from some of their invitees.

An enjoyable experience, I though a bit about photography (or at least my phone snapping) and enjoyed seeing other folks images. It felt a little more relaxed than hashtag type collaborations. More meandering perhaps…

Thanks to Athole and the folk who I pestered to join in.

I am finding micro.blog a really interesting community.

From an educational POV the most positive experience and the one that I would like to see replicated (in Glow and elsewhere) is #DS106.

DS106 influences the way I think about ScotEduBlogs and the way I built two Glow Blogging Bootcamps 1.

In particular these sites aggregate participants content but encourage any comments and feedback to go on the originators site.

Micro.blog is making me rethink this a little, there you can comment on micro.blog (the same as the blog hub in DS106) and that comment gets sent as a webmention to the originators site. This makes thinks a lot easier to carry through.

Micro.blog also provides the equivalent of the #ds106 twitter hashtag but keeps that in the same space as the hub/rss reader.

Manton recently wrote:

Micro.blog will never be that big. What we need instead of another huge social network is a bunch of smaller platforms that are built on blogs and the open web.

from: Manton Reece – Replacing 1 billion-user platforms

Which made me think.

Firstly it reinforces how Manton really thinks hard about making micro.blog a brilliant place, avoiding the pitfalls of huge silos.

Secondly it speaks to idea of multiple social networks. Imagine if DS106 and ScotEdublogs where both platforms in this sense, I could join in either or both along with others using my blog to publish. I could decide which posts of mine to send to which community, and so on.

It is the same idea I’ve had for Glow blogs since I started working with them 2.

Class blogs could join in and participate in different projects.

It would be easy to start a local or national project and pull together content and conversation from across the web into one learning space. Although I’ve spoken and blogged a lot about this idea I don’t think I’ve made it stick in the minds of many Scottish educators. I wish I could.

  1. Blogging Bootcamp spring 2015 & Blogging Bootcamp #2 Autumn 2015 . I believe the potential for these sorts of educational activity is much underused in primary and secondary education. I wish I was in the position to organise and design more of these…
  2. For example:

Firstly; I’ve removed most of the post formats leaving the 2 I actually use here. Standard goes to the front page, status to the status. I organise kinds with the post kinds plugin. My Format box now looks like this:

add_action( 'after_setup_theme', 'childtheme_formats', 11 );
function childtheme_formats(){
add_theme_support( 'post-formats', array( 'status') );
}

I added the above to my child themes function.php

Based on Post Formats Formats_in_a_Child_Theme in the WordPress Codex. Standard Format is formatless, so you just add the ones you want in addition.

Secondly; I’ve moved the quote and content generated from the Post Kinds plugin to below the post. This is in the Post Kinds setting so was simple. Having them above my remarks meant that the quote was going to micro.blog and twitter rather than my comment.

I hope to have a bit more time over the summer holidays to rethink and rewire the blog. Some of the decisions I’ve made were perhaps not the best.

Most of the functions that have do with micro.blog and microblogging that live in my child theme’s functions.php in a gist.

I was watching spring watch out of the corner of my eye as I did some prep last night. There was an article about making your own Wildlife cam. It looks a lot simpler than others I’ve seen and used a Raspberry Pi Zero. The BBC site had a link to My Naturewatch where you can get instructions.

This looked like something my class would enjoy using. My zero is busy taking gifs of the clouds (>70000 to date Gif Cam), so I decided to try to use a Raspberry PI 3 instead.

The instructions were really good, simple and worked first time! No soldering involved. You don’t need a monitor for the PI or any logging on through ssh in the terminal. All you need is a PI, a camera module for the PI and a power supply. I used a £2.99 phone charger. You need a plastic box and an old plastic bottle too. This is bargain basement stuff.

The way it works is the then the pi starts up it becomes a network. You connect to this with a computer or other device. You are then on that network and not the Internet. I forgot about this when showing the class and couldn’t project from an iPad;-) You then open a browser and connect to a local website on the PI. There you can start the camera and view or download the pictures.

Once the camera is started it takes a photo every time something moves in front of it.

It was raining fairly heavily this morning so we waited till about 10:15 before putting the camera out on the playground with a handful of peanuts in front of it. After 15 minutes we collected it and had a look at the photos. I am impressed. We need to think a bit about placing the camera, perhaps finding somewhere with smaller birds but the camera worked a treat.

I think this is a really useful tool for the classroom. I hope we can use it to catch some butterflies on sunnier days too. I have had a few failures with hardware Raspberry PI projects. I prefer software ones but this is certainly the most impressive for the least about of work I’ve tried. I’d recommend it highly.

Alan ask:

Interviewing Your Domain

And suppies some questions, just like blogs way back when!

What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name?

johnjohnston.info ’cause .com and .co.uk and others were not available. I waited too long to get my name.

What was your understanding, experience with domains before you got one? Where were you publishing online before having one of your own?

This takes me down memory lane.

I started publishing on the web on aol. At http://members.aol.com/weefishes, (Internet archive from 1998), I was trying to share and sell some HyperCard stacks and applications. My business was called LittleFish. This lead to my first domain http://littlefishsw.co.uk I guess I wanted to have a more professional URL and more control over the content.

I took the same route with my school website, http://members.aol.com/sandaig (Archive 2001), then http://sandaigprimary.co.uk, (archive for 2003)

I started this blog on the Sandaig domain in 2005 (2007 snapshot on the Archive).

At that point I though of domains are more memorable URLs that would allow me a wee bit more freedom than AOL hosting.

I had or was involved in other domains, some of which still are in use. One of my favourite was opensourcecpd.org.uk which was a plan to follow open source principals for CPD. It never took off but I love the idea.

What was a compelling feature, reason, motivation for you to get and use a domain? When you started what did you think you would put there?

When I left Sandaig I wanted to move my blog away from the school site, so I sorted out a site and this domain. I migrated all the content for the old blog and eventually changed platforms to WordPress. I consider the blog, as continuous despite the domain and platform changes.

The blog sits at /blog I wanted the site to be more than a blog, it is full of different simple and messy web experiments and tests.

What kinds of sites have you set up one your domain since then? How are you using them? Please share URLs

I’ve no subdomain on this domain, but lots of folders. My favourites include my ds106 blog at /106, Flickr CC Stamper at /fcc and my /walks.

I do have another domain johnj.info which has a few sub domains that point to a far number of sites:

What helped you or would have helped you more when you started using your domain? What do you still struggle with?

My domains grew in a messy and organic way. Previous choices affect future ones. Of course I’d like everything neat and tidy but…

I don’t handle or control the dns for this site. Hence the johnj.info domain and sub domains. My host does this. I stick with him because he is great and has indulged me a lot. Some other sites I host elsewhere for price and cause I like Jim too.

What kind of future plans to you have for your domain?

I am exploring the indieweb more, hopefully I’ll keep that going.

What would you say to other educators about the value, reason why to have a domain of your own? What will it take them to get going with their own domain?

I like the idea of my own space more than a domain. I like futzing. It is important, to me, to have one place. Sites in silos, or aol, or tilde spaces are fine playgrounds.but services go away. The domain is just an address pointing to my messy kingdom where I can do what I want, if I can.

I find great value in having my blog go back for years. I search it often. If I’d trusted a silo my content might have vanished by now.

Ideally everyone would get a domain automatically. Obviously this would make for a lot of domains.

featured image created with AppleScript & Gifsicle ‎autocomplete-gifs

I got a request from a teacher who wanted to download a years worth of images from a Glow Blog (for end of year slideshow).

Although there are plugins that can do this these are not available on Glow Blogs. I was stumped apart from going through the site and downloading them 1 by 1. But after a wee bit of thinking I though I’d try using the REST API via AppleScript.

The REST API will list in JSON format the media:

http://johnjohnston.info/blog/wp-json/wp/v2/media/

Look at that in FireFox for a pretty view.

JSON Helper is

an agent (or scriptable background application) which allows you to do useful things with JSON directly from AppleScript.

So I can grab the list of media from a site in JSON format use appleScript to download all the files.

The script I wrote is not great, you can’t download from a particular year, but a quick look at the JSON will help in working out how many files to download.

I am sure there are more efficient ways to do this and I’ve only tested on a couple of site, but it seems to do the trick and might be useful again sometime.

Continue for the script:

The ScotEduBlogs site which aggregates posts from Scottish Educational bloggers mostly hums along by itself.

Every so often I get an email to add a blog, or one for someone ignoring the, “Please do not use this form if you want us to review a product or you want to post here, we will not do so or reply”. notice.

Recently something went wrong with the form and I missed a couple which I’ve now rectified.

This reminds me to post about SEB here. I think it is a valuable resource, gathering blogs posts from around the country and sectors. It provides a handy twitter feed too: @ScotEduBlogs auto tweeting the posts.

I guess a lot of educators are a lot more engaged in twitter than blogging now. I think that is a pity.

You can follow ScotEdublogs by just reading the site, by following  @ScotEduBlogs or by adding the RSS feed to your feedreader.

If you are a blogger and write from a Scottish pov or about Scottish educational matters you can add you site.