Social Field Guides

Have you seen the Field Guide: Birds of the World group in Flickr? It’s not just a “look, an eagle!” group:

“This is not just another group for people to post random photos of birds, but it is an attempt to build an online Identification Guide of the birds of the world.”

It’s even got indexes, such as a list of common names. What a wonderful example of a social taxonomy – leveraging the power of enthusiasts to create a rich, deep and beautiful product. This sounds like a great opportunity for a classroom experience.

But wait, there’s more! Not into birds? Try the guides for butterflies1, trees, wildflowers, and others…


  1. insects and spiders are there too, but you have to log in and sign up to see the photos in the pool, which is kind of lame. []

Choosing a typeface with which to brand Barry Bonds’ ball

Barry Bonds’ record-breaking home run ball is going to be branded with an asterisk, then put in the hall of fame. Is anyone else itching to see what typeface is used to set the brand? I also wonder how it is going to be set – will the brand be burned into the ball? Printed with ink? If I had to choose a typeface for this, I might pick something like Didot, with it’s elegant lines and big round points. What face would you choose?

Copyright 101

While handing out a scolding to the local campus bookstore, a few Harvard lawyers deliver one of the most straightforward descriptions of copyright law I’ve seen in a while. Short, sweet, and to the point.

(Via Boing Boing.)

jQuery UI

The jQuery UI library launched today, and is looking pretty slick. Don’t see what you need there? You might be interested in something like Ext JS, which can plug right into jQuery.

Recruiting web professionals

A new position went up last week on the UVM Jobs recruitment site:

Multimedia Development Specialist

To assist faculty and staff to produce and manage digital multimedia content for instructional applications. Provide coordination of a Mac/PC multimedia computer lab and develop and facilitate workshops for faculty on digital multimedia. Provide general faculty and student support in the Center for Multimedia Development facility.

You can find more information on this position at the UVM Jobs site (search for requisition #032064).

Since I’m on the search committee, here are some thoughts and resources related to recruiting web professionals.

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Fixing UNIX permissions en masse

Every once in a while I need to “fix” the unix permissions on a directory. This is usually a web directory, so all the folders need to be readable and executable (i.e. 755), and the files need to be readable (i.e. 644). A preventative measure might be to set the umask appropriately (i.e. 022), so that there is less of a chance that I’d need to fix things.

However, I still need to be able to go back and fix things. Doing so makes use of some funky looking chmod wizardry:

chmod -R u=rwX,go=rX foldername/

Where foldername is the name of the folder and contents you want to “fix”. Note that if you are at UVM and on their “zoo” cluster, they have a form that will let you do this to your entire directory. The above snippet does the same thing, but gives you a little more fine grained control over what you are “fixing”.

Update: At the time of writing, I couldn’t find the link to where I found the above recipe.

Rands on Presenting and the Resume

Some of the best material to come out of my feed reader lately is the product of Rands In Repose. A couple articles of note are his tips for nailing a presentation and crafting a killer resume. I’ve touched on resumés (at least the concept of them) and presentation skills here recently, but my ramblings don’t really compare. If you ever have to do presentations, prepare a resume, or just enjoy a good read, take this blog for a spin. Add it to your reader. It’s gold, I tell you! GOLD!

WebCT Orphaned Users

The application formerly known as WebCT CE (Campus Edition) 4.x sometimes leaves you with what the documentation sparingly refers to as “orphaned users”. This often occurs during the student import process, or while restoring course backups in a manner that restores students and their data (i.e. a “replace users” restore). Here’s how you might be able to restore those orphans.

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Date math and documentation

The other day I found this little nugget in the comments of the date page of PHP manual. The real lesson is in the first paragraph:

“One of the most useful skills you can utilize when performing date math is taking full advantage of the UNIX timestamp. The UNIX timestamp was built for this kind of work.”

The comment goes on to give some relevant examples. If you aren’t a fan of doing date math – in any language – take this concept to heart. It will make your life easier.

Comments like this are a great example of why the PHP Manual is one of the best reference manuals out there. I would bet that this documentation format has been a big driver behind the popularity of the language. Any good API, manual, or set documentation should include moderated comments.

Burlington Upcoming

My weekend is filling up. I’ve been playing with Upcoming more lately – adding events, and inviting people. Here are a few I’m looking forward to.

  • My friends brother’s band, Böne Cöbra (think big hair, heavy metal, and the 80’s) is playing tonight.
  • The Complaints, a band with lots of great covers from my “youth” (i.e. solid 90’s modern rock) are coming to Ri-Ra’s Saturday night.
  • Yar! The Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival is this weekend (Sunday, to be exact).

If you are around the Burlington area this weekend, and any of these look interesting, sign up and join me online and in person.