Planet Aggregators

Solar System
I’m using the feed from planet TALO as my learning network page and set it as the main page with the option to read my blog. I hope this might generate some comments and discussion of the information that flows through the network. I’ve added a theme switcher and a recently released theme called mollio as my cms style theme and set it up more as a learning community site. There’s a survey so that you can make an assessment of my skills.

I’m loving planetplanet.

Planet is an awesome ‘river of news’ feed reader. It downloads news feeds published by web sites and aggregates their content together into a single combined feed, latest news first.

I don’t use my usual feed readers as often and now run a collection of planet aggregators locally on my Edubuntu system. I also have planet Venus installed, its a refactoring of planetplanet, it can use opml files and has a planet venus wordpress plugin, for my site online I’m just aggregating the planet TALO feed but in my local development environment I have both planet venus and my dev wordpress running, I have it set to use the opml file generated by my local WordPress blogroll and the big difference is that for all the feeds it automatically adds the users as wordpress users and the posts as wordpress posts so it’s all in a neat archive. It’s a really nice system that’s easy to manage and a nice solution for building an online learning community by taking advantage of web feeds, the blogosphere and the free market economy that it supports.

If you want to contribute to Planet TALO contact me with the details of your site.


Fotonotes for annotating images

FotoNotes Homepage. Move your mouse pointer over the image below to see the annotations.

GNOME Desktop

After wrestling with mod_rewrite I finally have FotoNotes working. You’ve probably seen this on flickr, here’s the info from the FotoNotes homepage:

Probably the best known derivation of FotoNotes is Flickr’s note feature. Flickr did their own implementation, but Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake is nice enough to credit me: “Greg Elin of Fotonotes fame, who is responsible for us adding the annotations you can make on Flickr photographs.”

Here’s an interesting part from the read me included with the code.

(c) FotoNotes, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
FNServer, FotoNoter, FotoNotes, and fotonotesplugin.php are
open source and available under the Open Software License
v 2.1 (
FotoNotes is patent-pending.

You may implement the FotoNotes specification in your
own code an applications royalty-free in exchange for
attribution under the Creative Commons by Attribution
License. See
for more information, including commercial licensing options.

So thanks Greg Elin and FotoNotes hackers for the code, I think it can be very useful for online learning, I’m trying to show that with the Edubuntu image above but it seems rather obvious you could take a photo of the inside of a PC and say to students identify 4 things or maybe at the Wikiversity school of plant science say identify 4 parts of this plant. Here’s the Mediawiki Fotonotes extension. If I used a bigger image for this desktop example above it would be much better. I can do that on the Wiki later.

Its really interesting how the XML is stored in the JPEG Header, hopefully we can get some comments from computer scientists talking about that, it reminds me a little of [[Steganography]] but I don’t think that has much to do with it.

Its way past my bedtime so there you go.

Mlearning and WordPress

From [[M-learning]] on Wikipedia:

M-learning’ is the follow up of E-learning which for its part originates from D-learning (distance education). M-learning is the delivery of learning to students who are not keeping a fixed location or through the use of mobile or portable technology.


M-learning is the term given to the delivery of training by means of mobile devices such as Mobile Phones, PDAs and digital audio players, as well as digital cameras and voice recorders, pen scanners etc. M-learners are seeking lessons in small, manageable formats that they can undertake when it suits them.

The Quoted text above is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

So I looked at some options for WordPress. WP-MMS, WordPress Mobile Edition and WordPress PDA plugin, they might not meet everyones needs but there’s also blogging software designed for mobile bloggers. You can get the code for easymoblog and check it out, I haven’t found an online demo yet, there’s Comoblog which was developed using easymoblog, it has some nice modules and heres Mobilog and a demo, if you look around there’s other [[Free_software]] moblog projects, that’s just a few examples, lets get back to WordPress, by default WordPress has a feature that allows you to send posts by email, that seems to be most common way people use moblogging they take a photo, write a brief description or story then post it via email and the attachment is displayed above or below the text. There’s also Postie which allows for more customization mostly to do with attachments.

I havent had a real good look at Blogger and Flickr but apparently you can use them for moblogging so there’s also the option to post to Flickr and display the output on WordPress.

WP-MMS is a Plug-in which allows MMS messages from your cell-phone to be posted directly into your WordPress Blog but has an interesting disclaimer that I have to spend more time trying to understand.

I dont own a PDA or browse the web with my mobile phone so please if you have a mobile phone or PDA visit my site and tell me what you see, a screenshot or photo would be really nice. Nothing comes close to OLPC for mlearning 🙂

Wordpress PDA

I hope Imthiaz doesn’t mind me using this image, click on it to visit his site.

I’ll have to do a mini-review of how I use Mediawiki sometime soon, you can sign up for an account now so check that out.

Links Jan 22

One of the things I should have mentioned in the WordPress post is using the Feed List plugin to display rss feeds on posts and pages, thats what I’m doing for this post, I use delicious or scuttle to tag some bookmarks with todays date and then just insert a single line of text, below you see the results.

Links for Jan 22 2007

The best enterprise class blog/CMS platform

Thats right, its WordPress. Heres an overview of how I use WordPress.

[[Wordpress]] is [[Free_software]], its an easy to use publishing system. Your looking at it in action right now. There’s a huge collection of themes and plugins available for it, you can browse the themes, the plugins, and the widgets.

View my statistics and a full list of the plugins I currently have enabled.

My favorite plugin is the one that re-posts my posts to my blogger blog, everyone seems to want a plugin that allows them to write once post everywhere, rss helps a lot with that but not in the same way.

The list of plugins I have installed is generated by a plugin itself so lets look at some statistics plugins I’m using. The Click Counter shows which links are popular, Counterize shows how many people visit the site, when they came, where they’ve come from and some info about their browser, IP 2 Nation shows where people are from in their comments, Browser Sniff shows what browser and OS people use in their comments , Viper’s Plugins Used, Downloads Stats, FeedStats, Word Stats are all pretty self explanatory, some of them draw pretty graphs and you can run custom queries. Here’s some screenshots and examples.


Wordstats admin view
Wordstats admin

Download stats

Download stats


Feed stats

Here’s the visual rich editor with the buttons to easily include videos.


Counterize monthly and daily graph. its a slightly old screenshot 🙂
Counterize Monthy graph
counterize daily

Plugins that are interactive for feedback and learning. Theres wbExam, wbquiz, Survey Fly, Democracy poll that you see in my sidebar, Pierre’s Wordspew is the Live chat I use and Email Contact form.

Post enhancing plugins . I use aLinks, with aLinks you set up a list of Keywords/phrases that are converted to links, it saves me the hassle of remembering sites and going through the whole insert link process, I can just keep typing. Wikipedia Link enables me to use Mediawiki markup for links to Wikipedia articles, you can see it when I type [ [Kangaroo] ] without the spaces it converts it to [[Kangaroo]], Audio player is a flashy little mp3 player, when I include a MP3 in the post it auto adds itself. Code Snippet is for adding code in posts. Geo works with Plug ‘n’ Play Google Map for including maps in posts, here’s my map page. Polite-ifier fixes bad language. Gravatar is for users to include their gravatar in comments. SimpleTags and Ultimate Tag Warrior are for tagging posts, UTW works with technorati tags and the really nice thing about it is that it generates rss feeds from tags which is very useful, it also works with YouTube Related Videos to include videos related to the post. WP-Print is so people can print my posts. WordPress Email Notification Plugin v2.3.1, people on the list get my posts by email. XSD Snapr previews links in a bubble. wp-notable adds the social buttons to posts. Subscribe To Comments is so people receive comments by email for the posts they’re interested in.

Image plugins. Flickr Widget, Photopress Plugin, PicasaWeb, Random Banner, flickrRSS.

I wont go through the whole list but out of the remaining plugins here’s some of the ones I think you may be interested in. Organizer is used for file management. IM Online Plugin/Widget, Link Indication, Postie for emailing posts with media attachments, Progressbar Widget, Translate, XD Forum, myStatus.

If you host your own WordPress site you probably will just want to go through the list and the plugins that I don’t currently have enabled won’t show up in the list so here they are. Addictions, Live, NZ Shopping Cart, post2pdf,, Skype Button, Theme Switcher, widget, Google Search widget.

Apart from all that there are the default features of WordPress like options to save your posts as drafts, manage your posts, pages and moderate comments, password protect posts, add users, create pages, display recent comments and posts in your sidebar, use widgets, view incoming links and the common features of blogs like web feeds and displaying posts in reverse chronological order and the comment system.

The E-learning baboons will always tell you what you can’t do so just shake your stick at them and they will go away.

Thanks go to the programmers that have made WordPress such a pleasure to use and extend.

nsw learnscope com

After reading Alex’s 5 things post I starting thinking about all kinds of things, some of the teachers in TALO often remind me that life experience is valuable and who we are and where we’re from can be important, I like to think its what I do thats important, it sounds cliche and if you work online its easy to take that approach but their students come from a diverse range of backgrounds and its not that simple. What I wanted to talk about is Alex mentioned my site.

If your looking for a little more home grown account of what constitutes a mashed web interface then check out Chris at Superuser. It is evident that we have a new web growing like a virus ready to Multiply our posts, entertain new audiences and engage learners in the space that they frequent within.

Its nice to get a mention, I wonder if we will ever see, or something similiar. I noticed they’re using WordPress as their blogging platform and I think they can get a lot more value out of it particularly for community development.

There’s some simple and cost effective things they could do with the software so that in a way it acts more as a dynamic community space, showcasing and connecting the nswlearnscope projects and their members, theres many benefits to it and it makes good business sense to be on the same page. I also noticed that there’s no search engine optimisation and the most useful links are linking away from their site and as far as I can tell it doesn’t look like they are keeping track of that, its important to know how people use your site, it helps to see which parts of your project are lagging behind.

I think I’ll have to do a mini review of WordPress.

5 Things meme

I was blog-tagged by Alexander Hayes which means I should tell you 5 things about myself that you don’t know.

  1. I’ve lived in 4 states of Australia.
  2. I lived in Kings Cross for 8 months and no I’m not a shady character.
  3. Im a Virgo, Tiger, two point zero.
  4. I have Ollied down 13 stairs and over 11 telephone books.
  5. I used to play semi-pro soccer and believe in fair play.

Here’s a recent photo.

Its a bird, its a plane, no its me

I’ll tag Leigh Blackall, Bill Kerr, Noiesmo, Jack and Michael Nelson

Linus Torvalds at in Sydney today

From Builder AU:

“One of the issues I have is that the most important thing is good technology. It’s not about being commercial or non-commercial, open source or closed source. To me, the reason I do open source is, it is fun.

That is the most basic thing. “I also happen to believe that it is the best way to, eventually, get the best end result. Part of that is the ‘eventually’. At any particular point in time, it may not always be the best thing right then,” he said.

He also talks about the GNU GPL and DRM. Read the whole article.

Wikipedia: [[Linus_Torvalds]] is best known for initiating the development of the Linux kernel.

Second Life viewer available under GNU GPL

On Top of the Virtual World

The Second Life Viewer source code has been released under the GNU General Public License, the most well known and widely used [[Free_software]] License. Read the press release. I haven’t had a really close look at the code, at a glance it looks like you would have to install some non-free software to build the client or disable the sound. Its tempting to build it but I think I’ll wait a while, someones likely to build an Ubuntu package though I’m not sure they’ll be able to distribute it. You can download Second Life binaries free of charge and play it online for Mac OSX and windows, the Linux client is still alpha. I’ve used 2 previous versions of the Linux client and they seemed fine so if the thought of compiling source code isnt your thing then download that version.

Wikipedia: [[Second_Life]]

Second Life (abbreviated SL) is an online virtual world provided by Linden Lab which came to international attention in late 2006 and early 2007. Through a client program, subscription-based users interact with other users through avatars, providing an advanced social network service.

While SL is referred to as a game, it, in general, does not have points, scores, winners or losers, levels, an end-strategy, or most of the other characteristics of games. Users, who are often called “Residents” amongst themselves, explore, meet other users, participate in individual and group activities or “events”, buy items, virtual property and services from one another. Long-term users learn new skills and mature socially, climbing a virtual hierarchy.

In Second Life, some people earn a living, some big companies have their own islands and hold global conferences, you can wander around and run into well known celebrities and Harvard Law School offers portions of its course in the virtual world. Read the [[Second_Life]] article on Wikipedia for more information and statistics.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the use of virtual environments in education some of them use dungeons and dragons escapist fantasy MMORPG’s, Second Life is better than that, rather then assembling your gang of undead necromancers and troll warriors to go slay the elf godess for her +50 charisma breastplate and hoard it from your guild members, you do cool stuff like create things and add value to the world.

For people that follow Planet TALO you will have seen that Jokay has been actively exploring the use of Second Life in education for quite some time now so make sure you visit her blog and check out her research. She’s developed some really interesting activities and built up an area for training.