Author Archive | Arthur Vandelay

Notice of upcoming changes to Google Apps sign-on

google_apps_logoOn Friday, October 7th, we will be transitioning our Google Apps (Gmail, Docs, Sites) to Google’s integrated authentication system.  In order to do this, we must bring our passwords in line with Google’s requirement that all passwords must be at least 8 characters in length.  This means that “fluffy” or “12345” are not going to be valid password options from now on (sorry).

Furthermore, even if your password already meets the length requirement, you will need to complete the password change procedure to register the change with Google and ensure the accessibility of your account.

To avoid interruption to your accounts (including Gmail, Docs, Sites, and Powerschool), please change your password by Friday, October 7th. See this TSS knowledgebase article for instructions on changing your password.


Simple Syndication Subscribers Savor Spare Seconds

Time Enough At LastWe’ve been fielding questions about WordPress all month.  It’s encouraging to hear how much interest this project is getting.  Recently, we received this question from Mack Lewis at CPE: “How does the RSS feed work?  What’s its purpose?”, so this post is an attempt to answer that question for Mack and others.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is an an alternative presentation medium for weblogs.  All WordPress blogs automatically support syndication formats including RSS and Atom.  If you read a lot online, these syndication tools can help you read more online and spend less time doing it.  If you find reading news online cumbersome, a feed reader might just be the best way to get started.

RSS isn’t just for human readers, though.  Since RSS is designed to be handled efficiently by computer programs, there are many sites on the internet dedicated to syndicating news from various sources, called Blog Aggregators.  One of the main benefits to blog authors for providing blog RSS feeds is that aggregators can be a way of advertising your blog to new readers.  If you’re looking to expand your blog’s audience, one way to start is to submit your blog’s feed to those aggregators.

Technology is a rapidly changing field, and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest developments.  I started reading news via RSS in mid-2007 when someone sent me an article/video about Robert Scoble, a popular tech blogger, whose morning routine includes reading over 600 websites via RSS to find material for his own blog.  At the time, I was mostly getting my tech news from Slashdot and Ars Technica.

After watching the video, I decided to give Google Reader (demo video) a try.  So far, it’s been a success.  Instead of browsing to five or six different websites to keep up on what’s new, I can do it all at once.  Right now, I have 120 items in my reading queue from 66 weblogs (including all of the District 6 blogs), and when I sit down to read, I’ll probably spend 20 to 30 minutes skim-reading all of those articles.  When I see something interesting, I open the article in a new tab and move down the “river of news” view to find other interesting items.  Every once in a while, an article from weeks back will pop into my head in conversation, and since Google Reader has excellent search, (most of the bugs having been fixed since 2007) I can usually go back and find what I was thinking of.  Sometimes I joke that I’ve never known so little about such a wide range of topics in my whole life.

In Firefox, look for the orange RSS icon on the right hand side of the address bar.  When the site that you’re reading has an RSS feed, the icon appears and has a menu you can use to subscribe to the feed in your reader of choice.  Most major internet sites now provide RSS feeds.

Happy surfing!


Tags vs Categories

Here’s a resource I wanted to share during today’s WordPress training, explaining the difference between categories and tags:

“As best as I can explain it, categories are things you create ahead of time and only have a few of. Imagine them like sections of your site. The signs on aisles of grocery stores. Tags are one-off keywords attached to a post. You may add a tag to a post that you’ll never use ever again. Categories are meant to be permanent, tags are ephemeral.” – Matt Mullenweg, WordPress Author


Downtime for system upgrades during break

Powerschool – Monday Morning, Dec 22nd

Starting about 9am on Monday morning, Powerschool will be unavailable for upgrades.  It will be back the same day.  Powerschool upgrades normally take one or two hours. If all goes well we’ll be up and running noonish.

Shared Files, Home Folders (U Drives) – Tuesday Afternoon, Dec 23rd

Access to U Drives and Shared Files will be temporarily unavailable starting Tuesday afternoon while we do an operating system upgrade on our central storage.

There will also be some upgrades happening on Monday with our VMware servers, which host many other functions used during the course of a school day.  However, owing to the way the system is set up, there would be no impact even if these upgrades were performed in the middle of a school day.  Forget I even mentioned it.


Zimbra maintenance: 11/20/08 9pm-11pm

We will be installing updates (bug fixes) on the Zimbra email server tonight (11/20) starting at 9pm and ending at 11pm.  In past experience, this work has taken about 45 minutes, but be forewarned that it could take up to two hours.  Mail received during this period will be delivered to mailboxes when the server is back up.

Again, the email server will be back by about 11 pm.  Hopefully, running the upgrade in the late evening will avoid any inconvenience.

There were a lot of bugs fixed that only really matter to techies like us which we won’t bother posting.  This is a selected group of the bugs fixed which affected Zimbra users in our schools:

  • Sharing a folder and assigning the admin permissions on the folder now works correctly.  This should help with shared calendars delegated by the user to building techs or people at schools managing calendars.  e.g. the D6 or CHS master calendar. (Fixed in 5.0.11)
  • The really annoying bug where clicking on a Spam Mail Summary could cause Internet Explorer to freeze.  (Firefox is still the best browser for Zimbra, but this should make IE at least usable. (Fixed in 5.0.11)
  • When you right-click the email content pane column header to modify the email view, disabling the Received column no longer disables the Inbox view. (Fixed in 5.0.11)

And a couple that were actually fixed in 5.0.10 but I think bear repeating:

  • Fixed issues with appointment reminder in Calendar that caused alert information about meetings to display at the wrong time. Reminders display correctly now.
  • Fixed issues in Zimbra Web Client – Clicking the From column in ZCS now sorts messages in the content pane correctly.

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