Ed Bilodeau

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This weblog had moved: http://www.coolweblog.com/bilodeau/

# Notice (Oct 19/05): So ends my stay here on Blogger. This morning Google implemented an anti-spam 'feature' that forces me to answer a challenge phrase when I want to post to my own blog. No notice of the change, nothing. Worse is that it doesn't even work! I type the phrase, submit, "An error occured", post deleted. Damn you, Google. Chances are I will revive my blog somewhere else, sometime soon. I'll post the new coordinates here as soon as they become available. (BTW, I'm unable to post anything to my RSS stream, so I'd appreciate it if readers could spread the word and ask people to take a look at this notice)

Update (Oct 19/05, ~noon): After a frustrating few hours (and not just trying out alternatives to Blogger), I've decided that this is a good time to take a break from all this. A day? A week? Who knows. But I need to step away from it before I pass a heavy magnet over the whole mess.

Update 2: According to this post, the reason I'm seeing the CAPTCHA (challenge phrase) is that Blogger has classified my blog as spam. Thanks. User for five years and now I'm spam. I searched the Blogger site, but there is no mention of how to get the spam flag turned off. There is also no way of contacting anyone at Blogger. Wow. Spam they say I am, so spam I must be. Maybe it is time to take a break.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

New project : This week I got the go ahead to start work in a project to update the Centre's web presence. This is a project that has been in the works since the spring. But given that nothing (i.e. very little) happens here over the summer, and my (at the time) impending medical leave, we decided to wait until the fall to get started. Well, I'm back, so its time to get started!

Here is the current site. The objective of the site is to act as a portal to all the opportunities at McGill for people to continue their education. This is a newish mandate from early 2005. Before that point, the web site was to serve only as a portal to the Centre's programs and courses. When the mandate changed earlier this year, under short notice we added in the topical selector (referred to internally as the "Find it Fast thingy"). We knew it was bit of a patch, but it got the job done within deadline. We also resolved to revisit the issue at some point in the near future. That's what I'm working on now.

The main challenge, as with many university sites, is to meet the needs of a rather diverse group of users. We have prospective students, new students, and existing students. A non-negligible portion of those users are international students. You also have students that are interested in professional certification. To complicate matters, web publishing at the Centre follows the same decentralized model as the rest of the university: each department is responsible for their own site. While the departments are all open to working with us to make necessary changes, more effort is required to coordinate everyone's efforts. (And, of course, everyone wants their content on the home page...)

For a long time I've felt that our home page could use a overhaul, so I'm glad that I'm being given the chance to make that happen. Formally, I'm the project manager on this project, but it would be more accurate to say that I'm the project manager/IA (a typical situation, I think). I'll be relying on some internal resources to take care of markup work, as well as the WCG (McGill's web group) for guidance on how to make the most of our publishing system.

To make this project possible, I've had part of my plate cleared. I'm still teaching and coordinating the e-commerce program, but my other work responsibilities have been put aside until 2006. In other words, I've been given everything I need to do a good job. As with most projects, the technical implementation is going to be the easy part. Coming up with a design that meets everyone's needs will be the hard part. But I'm sure that by the end of the year, the Centre's web presence will be greatly improved.