Archives for category: eduweb2008

Please review this site: (check out the html)
Now consider this:

“The site,, which took a year to develop, was funded by UM and the state Office of Public Instruction’s Indian Education Division. OPI and UM split the $60,000 cost to build the site.”

I sent this email to, who are listed as the contacts for the site. I would encourage you to drop them a note as well.  If those of us who know better never say anything about sites like this nothing will ever change.


I would like to make a couple of comments on the site The TGIF newsletter mailed out by the University of Montana said this: “The site,, which took a year to develop, was funded by UM and the state Office of Public Instruction’s Indian Education Division. OPI and UM split the $60,000 cost to build the site.”

And honestly I am outraged. This site is completely inaccessible for folks using screen readers. I would encourage you to take a look at this site: among other things it says this: “Section 508 requires that Federal agencies’ electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities.” That means that you are violating Federal Law.

I have a hard time fathoming the fact that you spent $60,000 on this site that is nearly impossible for even sighted people to navigate and was put together by someone who is obviously not well informed as to the requirements of a federally funded website.

When is enough enough? Today the technology, specifically the web development community is watching as Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 8. With every new browser, and every new browser version comes an increase in development time and hair pulling. So my question is when do we stop supporting old browsers? is there a formula or rubric to determine the longevity of support? I put together a simple timeline of browser releases and the support time time frame between Firefox and Internet Explorer.


The reason I’ve left out some of the prominent browsers is because they seem to have less trouble either auto-updating or vast support differences between releases. Browsers that ‘come with’ operating systems, with the exception of IE, like Safari on Apple update regularly and thus don’t have as much as an issue of users using legacy browsers. So when you are looking at the chart below, notice that IE and Firefox are broken into their versions, while all safari versions are lumped together.

To give this a little greater depth consider that 4,248 or .86% of our users are using Dialup, and 7,958 or 1.62% of our users have a screen resolution of 800 x 600. When we redesigned the Universities homepage we concluded that we needed to base the design on a width of 1024. So if we aren’t going to support the 1.62% of 800×600 users, should we support the 1.58% of Firefox 2 users?

Browser Visits Percent
IE 7.0 286,067 58.22%
Firefox 3 91,744 18.66%
IE 6.0 36,759 7.48%
Firefox 2 7,769 1.58%
IE 8.0 2,722 0.55%
FF 1,198 0.24%
IE 5.5 23 0.00%
Safari 52,983 10.78%
Chrome 2,980 0.61%
Opera 880 0.18%
Camino 249 0.05%
Mozilla 237 0.05%
Netscape 131 0.03%
Other 7,648 1.56%
Total 491,390 100.00%

The University of Montana’s browser statistics for the last month are in the table above. We test our sites in Firefox 2 and 3, and IE 6, 7 and now 8.  at what percentage of users is it exceptable to say enough is enough? is it 5% in which case we should stop testing in Firefox 2, is it 10% which would eliminate IE 6.  With the release of Internet Explorer 8 i would predict that very vew of the IE6 users will switch, and that IE 7 users will gradually migrate to IE8, but with the the bad taste of Vista still lingering the adoption process will not be as fast as the web developers would like.

conky is really nice. I followed the instructions from Club Ubuntu and was able to getting running. here are the basics:

sudo apt-get install conky

i used the .conkyrc file they recomend and then made some changes to fit my taste. some of the things i did:

  • Removed the Logging section.
  • Modified the Wireless to be Networking and edited to show external, wired, vpn, and wireless ip addresses.
  • i included more in the memory usage list
  • i edited the header to include uptime, processor info and gave it a title.

there are lots of examples online of how other folks have modified it to show more, and i played around with some of them, like trying to show the weather like they’ve done here but i had some difficulties getting to work correctly.

vim .conkyrc OR gedit .conkyrc

paste in this code:


# Create own window instead of using desktop (required in nautilus)
own_window yes
own_window_type override
own_window_transparent yes
own_window_hints undecorated,below,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager

# Use double buffering (reduces flicker, may not work for everyone)
double_buffer yes

# fiddle with window
use_spacer right
use_xft yes

# Update interval in seconds
update_interval 3.0

# Minimum size of text area
minimum_size 150 800

# Draw shades?
draw_shades no

# Text stuff
draw_outline no # amplifies text if yes
draw_borders no
font arial
uppercase no # set to yes if you want all text to be in uppercase

# Stippled borders?
stippled_borders 3

# border margins
border_margin 9

# border width
border_width 10

# Default colors and also border colors, grey90 == #e5e5e5
default_color grey

own_window_colour brown
own_window_transparent yes

# Text alignment, other possible values are commented
#alignment top_left
alignment top_right
#alignment bottom_left
#alignment bottom_right

# Gap between borders of screen and text
gap_x 10
gap_y 10

# number of cpu samples to average
# set to 1 to disable averaging
cpu_avg_samples 2

text_buffer_size 1024

# stuff after ‘TEXT’ will be formatted on screen

$color${font arial:size=9}
${color orange}SYSTEM MONITOR $color
$nodename@$sysname $kernel on $machine${font arial:size=8}
${color}Uptime:$color $uptime ${color}
${execi 1000 cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep 'model name' | sed -e 's/model name.*: //'}

Battery ${battery_bar 6 BAT0}

${color orange}CPU $color
${freq}MHz${alignr}Load: ${loadavg}
${alignr}${loadgraph 20,250 e5e5e5 F1AA0E}
CPU Total:${color} ${cpu cpu0}% ${color}${alignr}Temp:${color} ${acpitemp}
${alignr}${cpugraph 0 20,250 e5e5e5 F1AA0E}
Core one: ${color}${cpu cpu1}% ${alignr} Core two: ${color}${cpu cpu2}%
${cpugraph 1 20,120 e5e5e5 F1AA0E}${alignr}${cpugraph 2 20,120 e5e5e5 F1AA0E}
NAME${alignr}PID         CPU%        MEM%
${top name 1}${alignr}${top pid 1}       ${top cpu 1}          ${top mem 1}
${top name 2}${alignr}${top pid 2}       ${top cpu 2}          ${top mem 2}
${top name 3}${alignr}${top pid 3}       ${top cpu 3}          ${top mem 3}
${top name 4}${alignr}${top pid 4}       ${top cpu 4}          ${top mem 4}
${top name 5}${alignr}${top pid 5}       ${top cpu 5}          ${top mem 5}
${top name 6}${alignr}${top pid 6}       ${top cpu 6}          ${top mem 6}
${top name 7}${alignr}${top pid 7}       ${top cpu 7}          ${top mem 7}
${top name 8}${alignr}${top pid 8}       ${top cpu 8}          ${top mem 8}
${top name 9}${alignr}${top pid 9}       ${top cpu 9}          ${top mem 9}

${color orange}MEMORY $color
Total: ${color}${memmax} ${alignr} Free: ${color}${memfree}
RAM: $memperc% ${alignr}Swap: $swapperc%
${memgraph 20,120 e5e5e5 F1AA0E} ${alignr} ${swapbar 20,120 }

${color orange}DISK USAGE $color
${fs_free /}/${fs_size /} ${alignr} ${fs_free_perc /}% Free
${fs_bar 6 /}$color

${color orange}NETWORK $color
External IP$alignr${execi 3600 wget -O - | tail}
Wired ${alignr}${addr eth0}
UM External${alignr}${addr tun0}
Wireles${alignr} ${addr wlan0}
${wireless_essid wlan0} ${wireless_link_bar 6 wlan0}
Down: $color${downspeed wlan0} k/s ${alignr}Up: ${upspeed wlan0} k/s
${downspeedgraph wlan0 20,120 e5e5e5 F1AA0E} ${alignr}${upspeedgraph wlan0
20,120 e5e5e5 F1AA0E}$color
Total: ${totaldown wlan0} ${alignr}Total: ${totalup wlan0}
Inbound: ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 count} Outbound: ${tcp_portmon 32768
61000 count}${alignr}Total: ${tcp_portmon 1 65535 count}

I was informed of A Critical Internet Phenomenon, and decided that i had better contribute my part.

So here you are:

You Were Inteded To Be

Click the link above to find instructions on creating your own, and yes  i did the whole thing in the gimp.

The philadelphia airport., originally uploaded by jakonavitch.

I’m here at the airport sitting, waiting, going crazy, and I notice this trash can placed strangely close to my chair.

And then it started. Dripping. Droplets of water falling from the ceiling sometimes making it in the trash, sometimes on the chair next to me.

A sketchy place.

Telephones and semi-colons, originally uploaded by jakonavitch.

Checking out of a hotel you’ve moved into for four days is unpleasant. Certainly something will be left under the bed, in the bathroom, or behind that chair in the corner. I think I managed to collect all my belongings and check out of the hotel with out haggling over extraneous charges. Freedom.

The jitney was kind enough to transport me from the Trump Marina to the convention center / train station. the Jitney is much nicer at 9am, and no other passengers, than at 5pm where three pass by without stopping and their FULL signs glowing.

Riding the New Jersey Transit to Philadelphia is an amazing, and inexpensive, way to travel. The trains are mostly full, but not uncomfortably so. The landscape isn’t miles of asphalt and strip malls but more of the back country, houses, small towns, and lots of green trees. I have always been drawn to train travel as a kid I remember riding through eastern montana and north dakota and trying to count the telephone polls. Let me tell you from experience that there are quite a few.

This reminds me of a quote I think about often. “The more common a thing the more invisible it comes” when looking out the train window the telephone polls seemed to be a prime example of this. We see fields and trees and sandhill cranes and farm houses, but telephone polls and fences are lost.

As a programmer I often think that semi-colons have a lot more in common with telephone polls than a lot of people think.

The fraternity of bloggers is here. They are the young, well dressed, fresh outta college, with business marketing degrees, or whatever working in admissions, this is what they do. Fluent in social media taking social networking to a new level. Using ustream to stream the presentations to the web for free, and broadcasting the url’s via twitter. It’s a machine, the twitter storm, creating a buzz that moves faster than anything before. Push ideas, thoughts, and presentation reviews directly to the phones, computers, rss feeds, websites with minimal effort. The instant gratification of twitter is where it’s most powerful.

Email is dead. You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it six times already today. Next: business cards don’t exist. We carry them around as a formality, In case we meet someone over 35. It took me seconds to realize I wouldn’t be handing out the business cards I ordered for this conference, but would be networking and making contacts via Twitter. Yeah, behold the power of twitter. So one of the first things I did was redesign my twitter page (

PowerPoints here don’t have have phone numbers or websites, some don’t even have email addresses. But they all have their twitter account. The keynote speaker says “if you want to keep up on my reading list just follow my twitter.” I’ve been here for 2 days, and I’ve been followed on twitter 15 times and handed out 1 business card.

I’m sitting in Head in the Cloud. About using “the cloud” in higher ed to maximize your cost/exposure ratio by using the infrastructures that exist. Using the Amazon API, Using the Elastic Computing Cloud. Using Amazon you can get 8 processors 16Gb of ram for $0.80 an hour and manage it all from your location by using *nix commands.

Using S3 to store and serve videos, they were able to give users an better experience without worry of bandwidth issues, and they did some IP address filtering so folks on campus pulled the video from the local copy and off campus users got the video from Amazon, faster smoother, and with no change in the user interface.

Another use of the cloud they discuss is the ability to manage data archives. A comparison of backup systems: to buy a Dell system with 9Tb of space stored in a storage array, it would cost 14,000, for the same space in the cloud using S3 it costs $392 a month. Using S3 you loose the headaches of server management, uptime, admin support. The cost breakdown comes down to using S3 for 3 years is about the same as buying the same storage in a Dell Server. But you will save even more by not having to provide bandwidth to the server, not having to pay someone to administer, and manage a server with that kind of responsibility.

A personal solution they mention is Mozy. I think i’ll give it a try.

The presentation is over. Time to relax and enjoy the ride. The topic table I lead was really just that, a place to discuss a topic. I gave a quick introduction of myself and The University of Montana’s journey into open source. We talked about our similar experiences, getting tied into large products and paying support, and running into road blocks due to lack of flexibility and ability to customize and tweak the different systems we work on.

One of the things that I noticed was that several of the people there didn’t really care if these tools were Open Source, but the fact that they were free and easy for non-techy folks to set up, try out and use. And they’re free. The point no one can get over. It’s free. The red tape disappears. The bureaucracy is bypassed. The pain, is mostly, averted. Really trying out 3 or 4 products, full installations, is an option and gives ownership and power to the people who have to manage them.

Sitting in Branding is not just for cows, (by Ms. Alka Joshi, Director, Marketing and Community Relations, and Shashi Naidu, Web Technician, Evergreen Valley College) given by a marketing director of a community college surrounded by something like 8 other institutions that offer courses in California. They really played up their diversity and the feeling student had of being embraced by the college. Their style guide features colored dots to signify the diversity, a photo collage, and their tagline: We’re proud of you. Their ad campaign focused on the stories of several individuals. This is something the University of Montana admissions office is doing, and the new UM homepage will also be able to do. Really highlighting the individuals, and their goals and achievements.

Using Open Source tools frees up money that can be spent on marketing exposure.


  • something she hear from a faculty member: We’re an academic institution, what does branding do for us, we’re above that.
  • Grandmother Research works. She worked for a research firm and was amazed how no matter what the results were, they could always be spun into a favorable statistic. Be skeptical.
  • Web function is a Marketing Function

I present Vendor Free: open source solutions for higher education in 20 minutes, I am sitting in the breakfast room and watching people slowly shuffle in. I got here at 7 expecting to find the room set up, and the organizers organized, but I found the breakfast buffet being set up and the organizers nowhere to be found. There are about 7 table topics, each presented over breakfast, and signed up for the night before. We are all a bit puzzled as to the lack of order. The signs we expected to see indicating which table was which are not here, so we have chosen tables by chance, and hope not to have to pack up the lappies and coffees and bags and move tables. I’m a presenter so I’m moderately certain that if in fact a shuffle happens I can claim this table as Vendor Free.

OmniUpdate was good enough to bring travel mugs as some of their schwag, I’ve been in search of on as I can make free coffee in my room but a bottle of water in this joint is $2.50. kudos to you OmniUpdate, even if you didn’t put in a bid for our CMS.

The food has just arrived, and a man in the front of the room is doing a mic check, and as usual he is over-doing it and mostly just annoying those of us interested in getting anything done.

Check one, two….. Test one, two…. Check one, two….. Test one, two….

In Vegas you can’t tell the difference between 7pm and 7am. The AC seems to be trying to pull the same thing off, but the patrons don’t seem to be interested. At 7 this morning the music was going, the lights were on everything in full swing, except 90% of the machines were empty, the sound of the slots was missing. Its odd to be in an immense Vegas style casino and not hear that noise.

I find my seat, pull out my laptop, check my email. I see I have a new email, someone has followed me on twitter. I attempt to follow back, Twitter Whale. Great. As the row in front of me fills in I notice a name tag that seems an awful lot like the twitter follower. We greet and conclude that indeed he is my newest friend. Awe the power of social networking even as simple as twitter. Meeting people virtually, opens the door to face to face meetings and facilitates casual meetings.

I’m sitting here watching people pile into this long skinny room with the keynote speaker way up at the front. Mark Greenfield is giving a very interesting presentation, entitled the web as we know it is dead. This is something we all know, with the painful buzzwords like web 2.0 and AJAX blah blah. He discusses some interesting thoughts on where the internet is going and maybe what we should keep our eyes on. He mentions some fancy new things like Slingbox and Kindle. Some of the web tools he talks about are ning, a place to make your own social network for anything, qik, streaming media directly from your cell phone and, push out your twitter, facebook, myspace from one place.

One thing that struck me was his comments about the word “audience” and it’s relationship to the web. He says that he is removing the word from his web vocabulary. It gives the impression of a monologue. And we are really looking for a dynamic experience. This concept is particularly important to us in the higher ed world because so many of us base our sites around “audience pages” (future students, current students, faculty/staff, international, alumni, friends/family) nearly all of the higher ed sites I’ve looked at use this concept. There will be more thoughts on this.

Some points.

  • People don’t just adopt mobile devices, they merry them – B.J Fogg
  • When choosing a technology consider the Relationships it will serve over technology for technologies sake
  • Use an authentic voice
  • This social medium includes both the good and the bad you have to accept it.

His top 10 web trends are:

  1. The End of Print

  2. The World Network

  3. Virtual Reality

  4. E-mail is Sooo Dead

  5. The Read/Write Web

  6. Information Overload

  7. Redefining Time

  8. The End of Walled Gardens

  9. Community

  10. The Mobile Web