Archive for January, 2005

Future Virtual Learning Environment

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

I totally agree with this one. The importance of RSS feeds, web service API’s (XML-RPC) and other ways to loosely join pieces is not to be underestimated.

If you don’t understand this picture, maybe you should see a simpler version instead, already constructed by my fellow comrade Alan at Maricopa.

Take good specialized components, collect, mix and combine the way you want. The open standards like content syndication with RSS and XML-RPC for web servces make it cheaper and even possible.

We enable this with Dicole to some degree. We call it easy (and cheap) web application integration. More of it later. The problem with a picture like this is that the integration of such services usually requires some programmer to construct the interfaces into the VLE, which is costly and time consuming. Also, interfaces do change. I want this process to be as simple as possible for a teacher to do it herself. Still some work to do on that field but I guess the future VLE is not that far away in the future… icon wink Future Virtual Learning Environment

Are traditional VLE providers going to support a more open and more component oriented approach to VLE construction for customers? Absolutely not. it’s against their lock-in plan. In this case they are not controlling the pieces, say webmail, photo album or ePortfolio. It’s their business to provide uhm.. the best proprietary combination of such tools to their customers and lock competitors out. Unfortunately this is not the benefit of the customer.

I don’t have a business problem like this because I’m not making money out of the components. I also have an Open Source platform for creating such loosely joined group or personal environments. I can sell my expertise of Open Source tools and social software as a service to help finding good components, mix good components and create the customized targeted solution. Cheaply and affordably.

Spaghetti con pollo citron peperoncino

Monday, January 24th, 2005

3719511 ea7589b536 t Spaghetti con pollo citron peperoncino
spaghetti con pollo-citron-peperoncino,
originally uploaded by inf. Some of my latest experiments. Good for coding: some citron chicken spaghetti with chili fast-food (well, it’s fast to prepare, anyway). I don’t know if the italian name I made up is correct or not. Maybe someone could shred some light?

Here is the recipe.

Spaghetti con pollo citron peperoncino

Cooking time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2-3 servings

300-400g spaghetti (I used tricolore)

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
250g chopped chicken

2 tablespoons capers
2 teaspoons chili flakes
1 chopped tomato
2½ teaspoons grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 decilitre cream (optional)

1 decilitre shredded fresh basil, oregano and mint
1 decilitle shredded rucola leaves
2 decilitres grated parmesan
Lots of black pepper

Use half of the recipe when preparing for yourself (it’s late night coding, after all).

  • Boil spaghetti with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt until it’s al dente (half-cooked). While it’s boiling, prepare the chicken mix.
  • Heat olive oil on a pan until hot. Add minced garlic and chicken. Cook for a few minutes until the chicken is half-cooked.
  • Add capers, chopped tomato, fresh chili strips or dried chili flakes, lemon grind and lemon juice. Cook stirring for a few minutes until the chicken looks ready.
  • Add cream. This is optional, use it only if you want to make creamy pasta. Cook for a minute.
  • Drain the pasta and mix it with chicken mix, shredded herbs, rucola, black pepper and parmesan.
  • Serve with oven hot crispy bread and red wine. Start coding.
  • Cooperative categorization with folksonomies

    Monday, January 17th, 2005

    Flickr and have popularized the use of folksonomies. Now Technorati has adopted the use of tags to join content from Flickr, and Technorati indexed blogs into one single location. Excellent job!

    Folksonomies defined according to the original author Thomas Vander Wal:

    Taxonomy is from “taxis” and “nomos” (from Greek). Taxis means classification. Nomos (or nomia) means management. Folk is people (from German). So folksonomy means people’s classification management.

    Simplest description of folksonomies are simply classification, categorization or defining keywords. The concept is not new: for a long time keywords have been assigned to web sites in meta descriptions and in controlled vocabularies.

    Originally metadata has been in hands of professionals who use complicated vocabularies and tools for describing information assets. In some systems, the authors have had the opportunity to tag their content with a controlled vocabulary like IEEE LOM (learning object metadata).

    The fundamental shift is the move towards an information system where the content is not tagged for personal use only but for a community to collaboratively describe information assets without any formal training in the subject. This enables wider adoption but the trade-off is that the taxonomy is not as accurate as it is in controlled vocabularies.

    At first as you see Mac, Macintosh, Macs and Apple describing almost the same thing, the method seems more like chaos than control. The true benefit lies in the accidental browsing capabilities, as you find information you might never find otherwise. This enables a layer above the information to browse numerous information resources quickly and effectively, while still maintaining a level of cheer luck in finding new and interesting things.

    Google is using masses to understand the content. They have abandoned the use of user provided metadata, according to their Director of Search Quality. This is because as long as there is a market to use the metadata to make money, people will abuse it (spam, fooling people to look after their commercial offerings etc). Instead, they are using the masses to find out relevant data.

    When we look at folksonomies, the framework is using masses to help browsing in a similar way as Google does. Merholz notes that folksonomies could be used to create controlled vocabularies. Maybe this results in generally more useful vocabularities for personal use? This might also fix the problem with educational XML standards which have their problems according to many experts in the field.

    For more information and a great analysis of folksonomies, see Grassroots Cooperative Categorization Of Digital Content Assets: Folksonomies, What They Are, Why They Work and Folksonomies – Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata.

    It seems that in many things it’s neither total control nor total chaos but the true capabilities lie somewhere in between.

    Open Source beer from Denmark

    Saturday, January 15th, 2005

    Finally freedom as in beer (not free as in beer)! Danish computer science students have started to brew their own 6% Vores Øl beer. It includes quorana and caffeine for added energy boost. Serious geeks only? Maybe.

    The recipe and the brand are shared under the Creative Commons Attribution & ShareAlike license. I hope some local brewery takes this recipe so I could use it to aid myself with all night coding sessions…

    Check it out.

    Really simple tomato soup

    Saturday, January 15th, 2005

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    1556855 352092a2c4 t Really simple tomato soup
    Image originally by McBeth.

    Well I always thought that making tomato soup from real tomatoes is somehow time consuming and not worth the effort. Well, I tried with oven today and I can say, it leaves you plenty of time to browse your RSS feeds. 45 minutes in oven and max 10 minutes on cooker and that’s it. Not much chopping and hanging around in the kitchen.

    My girlfriend left to Scotland with the digital camera, so no picture of the soup until I get it back (I’m sure I’m repeating this very soon).

    Inf’s tomato soup
    Yield: 4-6 servings
    Cooking time: 45 min + 10 min

    ½ – 1 litre vegetable broth

    10 medium to large sized tomatoes
    1 complete unpeeled garlic
    2 unpeeled onions

    3 tablespoons fresh minced basil
    2 tablespoons fresh minced mint
    2 tablespoons fresh minced oregano (optional)
    1-2 teaspoons black pepper
    sea salt

  • Heat oven around 150-160 degrees. Separate the unpeeled cloves of garlic from the complete garlic. Throw garlic cloves, tomatoes and onions in the oven for 45 minutes. Avoid playing World of Warcraft in the mean time. Play Tetris instead or you have burnt tomatoes.
  • Take vegetables from the oven and leave them chill while heating the vegetable broth in a pot (avoid boiling). Use less vegetable broth (½) to make your soup thicker.
  • Watch your fingers, they still might be hot. Remove the root part of the garlic cloves and squeeze out the contents in a bowl. Peel the onions, cut into pieces and throw in the bowl. Optionally, fry the onions on a pan for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes in the bowl and you are set.
  • Shred the contents of the bowl with an electric blender into rough pieces. Don’t get haywire with the blender unless you prefer purée.
  • Empty the shredded contents of the bowl into the vegetable broth pot. Mix well. Let your cooking simmer for a couple of minutes and add shredded basil, mint, oregano (optional), pepper and salt. Check taste.
  • Let boil for 3-5 minutes and stir occassionally.
  • Serve with French bread as a starter of your main dish (suggestion: creamy spaghetti with tomatoes, spinach and chevre) or as it is with good company and some red wine.