EduGlu = Drupal + Leech.module?

Thanks to a tip from Bill Fitzgerald, I checked out a copy of the Leech module for Drupal. Despite the rather bad name, it sounds like it is (or eventually will be) perfect for what I need.

It lets users add their own feeds, and can associate said feeds and subsequently aggregated items wit any of the user’s Organic Groups. That takes care of the Class/Cohort/etc… concepts. Users just create or join the appropriate Organic Groups within the Drupal site, and add whatever feeds they want to whatever Organic Groups they want. They could add subfeeds of a blog to different OGs (say to the Biology 680 OG, and to the Political Science 544 OG…)

It’s not firing on all cylinders at the moment – I think it’s failing to add items to the specified OG, and some other minor things. But it’s going to be waaaaaay simpler to just roll up my sleeves and help out on Leech.module than to write anything from scratch.

Combined with stuff like the Views module, this could be an insanely powerful tool to help pull disparate feeds for users, spread across the internets, into a cohesive community site that behaves organically depending on the whims of the users. Very cool.

BlogBridge Screencast

I recorded my morning RSS checkin with BlogBridge 4.1 (well, I recorded it with iShowU, but the checkin was done using BlogBridge). The power of the feed star rating feature is really hard to describe – it’s much easier to just show it.

I wound up with a 16 minute recording, which is about how long it takes for me to check in on 443 feeds first thing in the morning. I took some time to describe the BlogBridge interface, but skimmed slightly more than usual so it probably worked out about the same duration.

BlogBridge Screenshot

I skipped reading many posts in detail, because that would make for an even more boring recording. The BlogBridge application was running on my second display, with the browser running on my main display – I switched regions for recording near the end (you can tell when).

Oh, and don’t read too much into the star ratings. I can’t rate every feed as being 5-stars, otherwise the ratings become rather useless. There are a lot of great feeds that I subscribe to but have left them unrated (or under-rated). That’s OK. My 5-star feeds of trusted people help me filter everything so I don’t miss anything.

Eduglu reloaded

I’ve been meaning to get off my butt and finish mocking up an Eduglu prototype. I’ve been dabbling with a Drupal site, powered by Organic Groups and Aggregator2. I had it basically working on my desktop box, and just tried reproducing the basic pattern here on my Dreamhost server. The whole thing took maybe 15 minutes to set up. Except that it doesn’t work. Dreamhost has disabled the curl in PHP, so the Aggregator2 feed update functions just fail silently. curl, foiled again! (it borked the plugin as well). Instead of spending my time fighting with Dreamhost and porting modules to not use curl, I’ll just finish mocking things up on my desktop or another server.

The recent talk about Northern Voice 2007 was probably the kick in the pants I needed to get back on the case. It was the day before Moose Camp 2006 (this February, which is in turn the day before Northern Voice) where the ideas for Eduglu really gelled for me, and I vowed to try to do something to bring it to fruition. Then promptly returned to being swamped and burned out, so nothing concrete came of it. Doh. OK, to be fair, “vowed” is probably too strong. I didn’t swear an oath, or write a manifesto or anything, but it was something that I said I thought was important, and I didn’t follow through.

I’ll be working on it more over the next few weeks. Once I’ve figured out a stable-ish location (even if it winds up being (temporarily) on my desktop in the office), I’ll share the link. It’s not going to be earth shattering. Really, it’s just SuprGLU with a couple of concepts added (Ozmozr has added the concept of Groups, but what is really needed instead is the concept of Class, Cohort, Semester, etc…)

Sketch Fighter 4000

TUAW linked to a new game by Ambrosia Software. I’ve had a soft spot for Ambrosia since way back in the pre-MacOSX days when I was hooked on Maelstrom.

Sketch Fighter 4000 is a strange hybrid game. It’s basically an old-school game, a combination of Asteroids, Space Castle, Defender, etc… But, it’s rendered as if it’s being sketched in ink on paper. When you shoot things, they blow up, leaving scorch marks on the paper. Or are they eraser smudge marks?

Sketch Fighter 4000 ScreenshotSketch Fighter 4000 Screenshot

In another nod to old school games, it comes complete with a level editor and sample custom levels. It has multiplayer game types, either sharing a single computer or over the LAN (I haven’t tried multiplayer yet). As an added bonus, the game plays great on my Powerbook. I’ve bought my license already. It’s totally addictive. Damn you, Ambrosia Software!

Banff Timelapse

There's a webcam on the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff. It's an HD webcam – the first I've seen – and it's running 24/7/365. I've been running a script to grab every image for the last week (they only update every 5 minutes, so it's not that much data), and I periodically convert the stills into a timelapse movie.

I just took a look at the timelapse for November 29, which was a pretty nice day here in Calgary. Turns out it was nice and clear in Banff as well. One thing that keeps surprising me (even though I've lived here all my life) is just how much darkness we get. I've trimmed the timelapse to just contain daylight hours, since well over half of the movie would have been black. Come ON Dec. 21…

Banff Sulphur Mountain Webcam StillBanff Sulphur Mountain Webcam Still

I'll process and post a week's worth (or so) when I get the chance. The hardest part of the process is removing frames that get corrupted on download, as they bork the conversion process.