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Preview: Edward Bilodeau's Weblog

Edward Bilodeau's Weblog

Updated: 2017-10-05T22:05:41.115-04:00


Shutting down the site, moving back to MT


This weblog has moved to Here's the reason why. Please update your bookmarks and newsreaders. Sorry for the trouble.

(The fact that I can post this indicates that this morning's problems appear to have been fixed. Too late, Google.)

Embrace and extend


Google Librarian Center: "Librarians and Google share a mission: to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. We support librarians like yourself who work each day to further that mission. This page is a first step toward improving and expanding that support." This gets a raised eyebrow from me.



In case you are wondering about the dearth of posts here, I'm on vacation this week. A study week vacation, but a vacation nonetheless. Not having a wireless network set up in the apartment means that I'm not online all day. I've been logging on at night to check messages and catch up on news and happenings, but that's about it.

The week and the studying have both been going well. I was worried I would have a hard time getting anything accomplished, but I've made good progress over the past two days. I'm feeling positive about how the rest of the week will go.

The best thing about having taken this study week off, though, is to be able to go for walks during the day in the lovely fall weather. Fall is probably my favorite season (winter a close second, spring, then summer).

BTW, just over two months until Christmas! :)

To turn over control of your life


In a recent post, Merlin Mann refers to "the overloaded, always-on, interrupt-driven world in which most of us are living." I would have thought that this kind of behaviour would have been something to avoid and free one's self from, and not something to embrace, to excel at.



The rain finally let up today. It was grey, cloudy, windy, and cold. But no rain. To tell you the truth, I don't mind either way.




Diary entry


Woke up late to a chilly, wet, and windy day. Tempting to stay buried under the blankets, but I eventually managed to pull myself out of bed and start the day.

With Nathalie heading off to work, I went with her parents to pick up a case of wine at the SAQ Depot just on the other side of the tunnel. I had never been before, but they assured me the wine was good and the prices better. Since I am not a fussy wine drinker (I have a binary palette: good/vinegar), I wasn't too worried about the quality of wine. Inexpensive I'm interested in.

Once we got there, I picked up a case of 12 empty bottle and 12 corks, and set about choosing my wine. You can only buy in multiples of 6, so I opted for 6 red and 6 white. I also picked up one of those bottle sealing thingamajigs so that we can enjoy a glass of wine with dinner without having to drink the whole bottle. Sealing the bottles was surprisingly easy. They have a manual machine in which is embedded all the knowledge of how to properly cork a bottle: place the bottle on the platform, put the cork in the hole, pull the lever, done. It was fun, and I saved about 40%-50% off what I would have paid retail.

This afternoon I puttered around the apartment. Laundry, dishes, surfing and slacking off. Had a wonderful supper with Nathalie. Folded some laundry. Watched our Saturday night shows (As Time Goes By, Rosemary and Thyme), did the last of the dishes. Make myself a cup of ovaltine (note to self: buy more milk) and settled in at the PC for a bit of before-bed surfing. Decided to write this note. Did so.

Walking down after class


I took the above picture while walking down from my class in Trottier last night. This morning I'm starting off my day by preparing and posting the slides, audio and links from the lecture.

It looks like my MuVo battery died near the end of the lecture. I checked before I started, and figured two bars (of three) meant I had enough to last for three hours of recording. Apparently not. Oh, well. I did warn my students that Murphy was likely to strike my audio recording. Such is life.

Heading home



WebCT Vista content module


Annotated screenshot on Flickr. Other users of WebCT Vista are welcome to add their own thoughts/opinions/experiences.




And then there was one


Blackboard and WebCT Announce Agreement to Merge. I doubt this will change the fact that I'm stuck using WebCT Vista for the next few years.

Wes Felter on iTunes 6


"As usual, if you value your fair-use rights, don't install iTunes 6 until a corresponding version of JHymn comes out." (link)

Everything has a price


Given that Apple is selling TV shows, how long until it starts charging for early access to movie trailers?



More or less done the first draft of tomorrow's lecture on gathering requirements. It just needs some tweaking and polishing, and it will be good to go. I think I'll put it aside for a few hours before making those changes.

What the...


Ads on After the strike, you would think they would be trying to build audience, not drive us away.

Blogging may be harmful to chances for tenure


Too Much Information?: ""A blog raises your profile, but it raises your profile for something other than research," Carroll said. And even if you are extremely productive as a scholar, he said, some professors may view a blog as sign that you could be spending more time in the laboratory or library, engaged in traditional research."

It is interesting to note that as much as tenure is touted as being a mechanism for supporting academic freedom, my impression is that it is more often used as a control device to regulate the behaviour of academics seeking tenure.

Tenure also underpins the "crisis" in scholarly communication, creating an artificial dependence on expensive journals, and I think explaining why academics have not moved en mass to take advantage of the web as way of sharing knowledge.

Some institutions have begun to take a more enlightened path to tenure. Some even include teaching excellence as part of a candidates portfolio! But overall, I would say the concept has been twisted beyond recognition and no longer serves the university, academics, or society well. We need to move on.

Good morning!


Coffee and a home-made scone in hand, I'm good to go! On today's agenda: prepare tomorrow night's lecture, go for a walk at lunch and maybe drop in on Karl, finish up a draft of a site architecture.

Outside the bus



New MS Office Open XML format will not require Office 12 upgrade


Details in this post by Brian Jones . Not that you won't need office. Free updates will be available for Office 2000, XP, and 2003 allowing those programs to read the new file formats as well.

Jones positions this as something which should ease the concerns of people thinking they would be forced to upgrade to Office 12, which is true. However, I think it is equally true that it will ease the concerns of those considering buying into Office 12, but worrying that they won't be able to share their files with anyone else (without down-saving).

WebCT Vista grief - Posts


WebCT Vista does a poor job of handling the formatting for posts in the discussion groups:

If I type in a plain-text post:
> Preview shows [br]'s, although they don't show up in the actual post.
> URLs are not converted to links (as they were in CE)
> Clicking on "Use HTML" and adding the necessary HTML code results in the proper links, but the line breaks all disappear, crunching your text together.

If I use the HTML creator (i.e. the Java-based WYSI-sorta-WYG text editor), it works better, but (a) I have to wait for the Java applet to load, (b) I still have to manually create the URLs using the applet's mouse-only formatting tools.

Vista also does away with the "Quote" reply feature, meaning you have to scroll down, find the text you want to reply to, paste it into your reply, and format it so that it looks like a reply.

As far as post editing goes, Vista is a step backwards over waht CE offered. I guess they figure everyone will use the HTML Creator widget.



ALA has published an article on findability. I'm glad to see to someone articulate what I would call "usability for information spaces".

Where the objective of a site is to provide users with access to a collection of information, the usability of the site is determined by the ability of users to (a) locate and (b) 'consume' the information they are seeking.

Findability focuses on the first part: the ability of users to locate what they are looking for. Effective labeling, organizaiton, and navigation methods contribute to this. The Polar Bear book talks about this at some length. I'm guessing Morville's new book will go into even more detail and perhaps provide a new perspective that will make it easier for practitioners to actually build information architectures that are usable.

Consumption, meanwhile, focuses on other things: the layout of the page, the organization of text, the clarity of the writing, choice of language, use of non-textual media types to enhance comprehension, etc. Information design more then information organization.

I think findability will become a useful concept, and I look forward to reading Morville's book.

Good morning!


Having a few minutes before class starts, I decided to set myself up in the serials reading room and check email and do a bit of surfing. Not much to report. A truncated week ahead, due to yesterday's Thanksgiving holiday. A lecture to prepare. Site architectures to work on. A few meetings. Plenty to keep me busy.

First task: secure a cup of coffee before class. God willing, the wireless in the classroom will be functioning.

Giving thanks