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.

Friday, October 07, 2005

WebCT Vista and software dependencies : In class last night we were talking about understanding the technical constraints that you need to be aware of before you begin designing a web site. Things like target platforms, etc. The recent example of Gap, Inc.'s web sites blocking Safari users shows that this is still a real issue.

We got to the issues of plug-ins, and noted that the less plug-ins you use, the less software dependencies you build into your site, the less headaches you will have in the long run.

At this point, one of my students related their experience at work, where the tried to access the course WebCT Vista site (during his own time, of course), and was told by the system that he didn't have the correct version of Java installed, so he downloaded it and installed it. This caught the attention of the corporate IT staff, who followed up to see what he was up to.

This brought about a good class discussion of the fact that increasingly, PCs both at work and at home are locked down so that people cannot install software without a fair amount of work. In a year or two when Windows Vista ships with Least-privileged User Account functionality (finally!), few people will be surfing with admin priviledges to their machine. If your site requires plug-ins that are not already on their machines, you are going to have a hard time getting people to install them. At least it will be a lot harder then it is now.

In thinking about all this, it made me think about the number of software dependencies the WebCT Vista requires. Not just in terms of plug-ins, but in terms of software and system configurations that need to be made. They even have a feature, a web browser checker, which will tell you if you are set up to use WebCT Vista or not. Go ahead, give it a try! Post a comment letting me know how well you fare and what you think of the whole thing.

(BTW, for the amount of fuss the system throws up for not having the correct version of Java installed, you'd think it was critical to the functioning of the system. From what I can tell, it isn't. There are a few components that need it (i.e. WYSIWYG editor, chat, whiteboard), but none of these are by any means critical to the system. Bells and whistles.)