Archive for February, 2007

Surviving DiDA SPBs

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

The deadline for DiDA module d204 is almost upon us (at LFC, anyway), so now seems an appropriate time to share some wisdom that I have acquired over the past 3 units.

1. Organize yourself!

This has got to be the single most important thing to get right to pass a DiDA SPB – you must be organized. I don’t mean by turning up to lessons on time and managing to use some primary sources – I mean that your entire mindset in the DiDA project must be impeccable order.

For the d201 and d202 SPBs, I managed to lose practically every scrap of feedback I managed to get down on paper – and the feedback that I did get wasn’t even that good anyway. I didn’t bother to print anything off from the SPBs, so everything was a mad rush at crunch-time when it transpired that I wasn’t meeting the criteria.

Go to WHSmiths or Wilkos tomorrow and buy yourself a ringbinder, some coloured dividers with tabs and as many poly-wallets as you can afford. Group together all of your printed off bits of paper – and if you’re working correctly you should have a fair few of them – and slip them in to poly-wallets together. For example, I group all completed feedback for a particular product in a poly-wallet, and all of my completed feedback under one divider. (more…)

Setting the standard

Friday, February 16th, 2007

‘Treat others as you would like to be treated’ – a classic rule that was told to a class of 28 starry-eyed innocents 4 years ago in one of my year’s initial RE lessons. It’s tacky, it’s cheesy, but it’s also a tactful way of saying ‘stop being so conceited you egotistical little fuck’.

But is it always relevant? Two loosely related events today made me consider this.

I have that cold bug that’s going around, on top of some other underlying headache-inducing nastyness, so I have felt pretty under the weather for the past few days. Whilst txting my mother in ‘tutor-time’ (a sort of doss session where you can catch up on work, which is officially described as either ‘a time to socialize with your peers’ or ‘a time for silent work’ depending on the teacher’s mood), my personal tutor decided it would be a good idea to steal my phone. (more…)

The Great System Purge

Friday, February 16th, 2007

The system techies at Landau Forte College are gearing up for a sweep of your user areas, and you have less than a week to cover your tracks.

This isn’t something that will happen to a couple of repeat-offending scapegoats after a seven day amnesty – the network admins are applying pressure now, and they are locked on to you.

Case and point – two students were pulled out of DiDA today for being on ‘inappropriate sites’ recently and are having letters sent home to their parents. Yeah, you know, DiDA, that quadrouple ICT thing which is pet subject of the senior ICT staff. ICT can’t afford to fail its first batch of DiDA students – if it was any other subject then the students would probably had their Internet access removed. This is 6 days before the end of the ‘amnesty’.

Less than a clean record? Delete the following:

  • Flash games that you have downloaded to your user area;
  • Proxies in your favourites – yes, even that one you named ‘BBC Bitesize’;
  • Pictures of bands or celebrities;
  • Lyrics and guitar tabs;
  • Music;
  • Links to ‘inapropriate sites’ such as game sites, social networks or streaming media.

And stay off those games sites and MySpace for a few weeks. Better to keep your head down until the techies are off high-alert than lose your Internet access and possibly your access to your user area for the rest of the year.

Quick fix for strange CSS link behavior

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Posts on GTD and photography for Scenes and Emos in the pipeline, but just a quick update – something that I discovered working on a website for a school project earlier. If you’re not into webdesign, give this one a miss.

If you’ve any experience in semantic webdesign/xHTML+CSS, you will know how… well, frankly what an arse IE is to code for. One of my pet hates is the way that it handles the :hover pseudo class. Firstly, it only works on links, and secondly, I personally have encountered a large number of seemingly unexplainable errors that occur after the link has been followed.

First, some background theory.  The order of a CSS document is important – if two styles for an element exist, the last property will always win. Because of this, it is important to put your pseudo classes in the right order. This order is:

  1. :link
  2. :visited
  3. :hover
  4. :active

It is easy to remember this if you remember that you will have a love/hate relationship with pseudo classes – that’s link visited hover active.

This is fair enough, but sometimes certain properties won’t work after the link has been followed in IE<7.

OK. So, the solution?

Leave off the :link pseudo class. Your styles will work (as far as I can tell) just fine, without the strange, seemingly random errors. If in doubt, add a blank and pseudo-classed selector for each link.

Learning to program in Ruby in 15 minutes

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

Ruby is an open-source programming language that can be used as a server-side preprocessor, similar to PHP, Perl, Python and so on. What sets it apart is that it is surprisingly user-friendly and programmer-orientated. The official description from the Ruby website is:

A dynamic, open source programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity. It has an elegant syntax that is natural to read and easy to write.

It certainly does seem friendly enough – it is built-in to many major Linux distributions as standard and there are equally effortless installers for both Windows and Mac OS. There is also a nifty interface for testing little snippets of code on the fly, and for launching larger projects. And it really is elegant – much more so than PHP.

What impresses me most, though, is an online interface for trying out Ruby that doubles up as as brief walkthrough and tutorial to the Ruby language. Go on, try it out – if you’re new to programming it is a nice little introduction on how programming syntax works; if you’re a little more experienced, it is refreshingly natural.

Not unhappy, just tired

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Have you ever noticed that when you’re tired, you’re often also unhappy? Or that when you’re unhappy you just want to sleep?

I wake up at 7.30 every weekday morning. I can’t get around that – it is the absolute latest that I can get up and only be very slightly late to school. I probably should go to bed around 10 or 10.30, but in reality I can’t remember the last time that I went to bed – let alone slept- before 11.30. I usually manage to get myself under the covers for about 12.

This works fine for the beginning of the week, ‘cos it means I can get more done at home and am in less of a backlog for the rest of the week. OK, the ‘things’ aren’t done before 12 because I am lazy and disorganized, but it’s still so much easier to sleep when you know that you haven’t got another load of crap to do in the morning. This kinda backfires at the end of the week when I’m practially unconscious, but if you constantly tell yourself that the weekend promises sleep-time, you get on fine.

I’m grouchy recently, and I’m also tired.  And I don’t really have anything in particular to be grouchy about.  Can you remember a time when you were grouchy or felt generally down for no real reason, and were bursting with energy?  This reminds me of a theory that Scott Adams (the Dilbert cartoonist) once proposed on his blog.  He suggests a direct link between tiredness and feeling low.  Check it out.