Mailing Number 21 - 29 August 2003
116 subscribers on publication date
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GCSE English Online (EGO). For the second year running students on the Sheffield College's EGO course achieved a 100% pass rate at grade A* - C, compared to a national average of less than 60%. This year 84% achieved A*/A, compared to 55% last year and a national average of less than 15%. Press release.
BBC News site facing extinction? Interesting 28/8/2003 article from The Register about the Conservative Party "cultural" spokesman's questioning of the value of the BBC's public service news web site, despite the fact that the site gets nearly 700 million page impressions per month, has nearly 10 million UK users, and another 30 million users worldwide, and costs only around £10m/year to run.
Mad as a hatter? According to this rather glib publicity from Sun, the company will later this year release Mad Hatter, an open source (but not free) alternative to the Windows/Internet Explorer/Microsoft Office combination, aimed at organisations who want to stop running these products as "standard issue". Industry analysis, for example News Factor, remains cautious, arguing that whereas Mad Hatter may be a satisfactory alternative for "transactional workers" i.e. clerical staff who use their PC for routine tasks, it is less likely to be so for "knowledge workers" who tend to "use a large array of software conceptually", and who need their operating system, browser, spreadsheet and word-processing software to support and interoperate with all the tools they use. If any reader is now using open source software routinely on their lap top or desktop for the bulk of their work, including the fiddly bits like web-page development, drawing diagrams, tracking changes on documents between co-workers, synchronising calenders with hand-held devices, interfacing with devices using USB, I would love to feature this in a future issue of this mailing.
Useful web accessibility site. Accessify is a very promising not-for-profit site established by Ian Lloyd, Nigel Peck and others. Plenty of up-to-date content, including tutorials, links and resources, a new discussion forum, news, and reviews. An example of the later is a comprehensive review of Lift, the accessibility testing and fixing tool, a license for which has recently been purchased by the Joint Information Systems Committee for the whole of UK Higher and Further Education, and which I featured in Fortnightly Mailing Number 18. Accessify has been designed so that you can easily download it to a PDA.
Articles in The Economist. Informative articles about the commercialisation of blogs (14/8/2003), and the impact of recent virus attacks (28/8/2003), the latter has a (small) page of supplementary links concerning internet security. (If either of these pages cease to be visible, you can email me and I will send you a copy using the Economist's "mail this article to a friend" feature.)
Web site usability. "This is the article to give to your boss or anyone else who doesn't have much time, but needs to know the basic usability facts", according to Jacob Nielsen's Alert Box for 25/8/2003. Good terse summary.
Workload Management for the Online Environment. Comprehensive, impressive, report (80 kB PDF) stemming from a 2 day workshop in 2002 at Penn State University in the US (which two subscribers attended). Provides ~10 credible, practical, workload management strategies under the 4 broad headings:
course revision and improvement;
Definitely worth reading if you have anything to do with developing or delivering online courses.
Semantic Web and RDF/XML. Semaview has published some excellent handy illustrations, each in three formats, using "language that can be understood by managers and techies alike" about the Semantic Web and RDF/XML. (Via George Siemens.)
PowerPoint. I was very taken with Edward Tufte's recent polemic against PowerPoint. In the interests of balance, here is artist and musician David Byrne's Learning to Love PowerPoint from Wired. Not as convincing as Tufte, mind.
The internet is shit. Print version of a short attack on the internet, with more than a grain of truth in it. Also available as a series of separate pages. (The anonymous author took care to make the pages valid XHTML.)
More and more like cars. Several kinds of silent water-cooling are becoming available for PCs, according to this article from the New Scientist.
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Last updated - 16/8/2006; © Seb Schmoller, but licensed under a
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