From the web: tools for project management and how to contract developers

Over on the IE blog Andy McGregor has a useful annotated list of some of the online tools that he has used to help with programme management.

Many could be just as useful projects – distributed or not.

On a related note David Flanders has a useful and extensive reflection and how to guide on contracting out software development.

Journals and the right choice of words

Erik Duval has just blogged about the first issue of IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies.
His blog post is available at

I’m glad to see the launch of a new journal in the field of learning technology and very glad to see that the content is going to be Open Access after a 12 month embargo during which it’s only available to subscribers. They’ve got a featured article that looks interesting “Capture, Management, and Utilization of Lifecycle Information for Learning Resources, Lasse Lehmann, Tomas Hildebrandt, Christoph Rensing, Ralf Steinmetz”

<rant> I may just be grumpy because the train strike is making my life difficult but there are two things about this journal (or -to be fair- IEEE’s journal system) that have already managed to frustrate me.

The first is that there is no publicly (non-subscriber) viewable table of contents  – this may be a mix up because its the first issue – but apart from the featured article – I have no idea what’s in this issue.

The second is that the journal has access to PrePrints and Rapidposts.

‘PrePrints are papers accepted for publication in a future issue, but have not been fully edited. Their content may change prior to final publication. RapidPosts are articles that have been accepted for inclusion in a future issue. Content is final as presented, with the exception of pagination.’

This making available of content that is ‘in press’ is great and adds value for subscribers – but please – find a different word!  ‘PrePrint’ – as confusing as it may be as a term – has very strong connections and a lot of established use in Open Access repositories. When I see that word I expect to find something I can access not a subscribers’ login screen.

IEEE login screen

I know this choice of words has nothing to do with the editors but frustrating potential readers isn’t going to incline me to return to the page. </rant>


Some of you may be aware that I’ve been working halftime for CETIS and halftime for the CDLR (Centre for Digital Library Research). From today I’m now working full time for CETIS.

I started working for CDLR during my studies at Strathclyde, and over the past four years have had the chance to work on a variety of interesting projects and with a good group of people. The projects have included:

  • an examination of metadata creation and workflow process (MWI),
  • designing guidelines for the creation and implementation of digital asset management systems (mandate),
  • and a series of projects looking at the Static Repository part of the OAI-PMH specification (Stargate)

As I move to work fulltime at CETIS on the Repositories Research Team, I’ll be continuing to develop a few case studies for the repository ecology and stay involved with the eFramework, but I’ll also be contributing to other work the team is begining to support the synthesis of recent work in the Informaiton Environment programmes. Watch this space …

Give me all your bookmarks…

or Adventures with Firefox 3, toolbars, and Wordle

I’ve been using for a while for work and find it a really good way to keep track of stuff. Although to be honest I find it most useful as an ability to keep track of other people’s stuff. I spend a few minutes each morning looking at what my network has been bookmarking or things that have surfaced through my subscribed tags. A little collective intelligence goes a long way and I’ve also found it a good way to share relevant resources with colleagues as I find them.

this week has been an interesting one for my account for two reasons – Wordle and Firefox3

I think I just about made it into the launch day download for Firefox 3 but was disheartened to find that some of my favourite add-ons have died. tinyurl; morning coffee; and the plugin.

A quick check today showed that although it wasn’t showing up as an update  have a new toolbar plugin – so uninstall the old one (how archaic :) ) and load the new one… easy…

well not quite – the new one comes with a wizard… and like most Wizards (or other mysterious characters at the beginning of a game or story)  this one offers a choice and not an especially pleasant one. Enter the wonderful new world of Firefox 3 with a toolbar to make life easy and either – upload all your existing offline bookmarks or discard them…

The new delicious plugin is designed to replace the browser’s bookmarking functionality. Thankfully there is an option to keep these newly uploaded bookmarks private (so that you’re only sharing them with and Yahoo…) – this means that my network and the wider world will be spared all the out of date trivia in my bookmarks-  for now at least.

As I work through the 600 new bookmarks I have on to see which of them I will usefully make public (lots of good older references),  which I will delete (how many links to old meet-o-matics is it possible to have), which I will keep to myself (do I really need to publicize the login screens for all the work systems I manage or just how long I played Battlefield 2 for…)

I can certainly see why might want to have all this information but I feel it’s a bit sneaky changing a simple tool into a data gathering monster. And that’s without thinking about the chaos when advanced users opt to make all their migrated bookmarks public… what do you have in your bookmark closet?

You might ask why anyone would chose to use this plugin. In short it just makes it easier to use and I now get a little browser email everytime some posts a link for me or a little button which tells my network is active (a button that, I suspect, will never be greyed out). There is something sadly cool about this.

That brings me neatly to why I would want to spend time making bookmarks public and tagging them.  In part this has to do with something resembling my own machinations of knowledge management and in part because sharing knowledge (or at least pointers to knowledge) lets cool things this happen… form the serious to the just plain brilliant (if perhaps not immediately purposeful). Wordle visualises your tag clouds- it’s not a particualrly new idea – it just does it wel. You can give it a textblock or a uesr name and it does this


These are my tags as of yesterday – once I get all my new links public this may change somewhat but I’ll have to wait and see.

edit (for the gamers): Should really have called this – ‘All your bookmark belong to us’

Blogging revisited

Why do people blog? (revisited)
It’s something I thought about a little at the start of this blog and something I return to briefly now. In part because I’m thinking about of some of the triggers for blog posts.

I’m not the most prolific blogger – in part because I find that there are certain types of trigger that seem to go with my blog posts. The recent spate of ecology posts arose from an email discussion and a workshop. Some arise from the latest incredibly cool web app, some from direct requests or reporting on events. Other are driven by much more random factors.

I’ve a number of friends who have started to blog most days this month, one driven by a project to post a picture every day in December, the others by the driver of Advent reflection. All of these encourage me to find space to blog and reflect more, but back random factors and that t-shirt…


A quick note that some of you may have noticed I’ve stuck a link to library thing on my blogroll (I’ll try to sort out how the sidebar is arranged eventually). This is the contents of my office bookshelf. a few non-work-related things may creep in (if I leave my Neal Stephenson in the office long-term) but on the whole it’s the books i’ve brought in for work. A button may creep in as well once i figure out how to get it to work.

Hello world! – what is a work blog?

A first post; Welcome to my blog.

I’ve avoided blogging so far in life, but it now seems to be part of my job.

I’m not sure if I’m relieved or confused by this. I’m perhaps relieved as it gives me an excuse to write reflectively without having to justify why I should inflict my musings on the world. I’m confused because what is a work blog?

There seem to be two types of blog: filter blogs and journal blogs. I suspect that most work blogs tend to be filter blogs – collections of briefly annotated links. Journal blogs being more reflective and often more personal are less suited to the work environment. That said, if I think about the blogs I read, it’s the work blogs that blend the two types that I find myself coming back to. But if I look again at who blogs in this manner most of the people have established reputations – they blog the way they speak or present.

I’m not sure what sort of blog I’ll end up writing as part of the point of my work blog is to talk about what I’m doing. Oh well, I’ll figure it out as I go.

I’ll introduce myself and my job a little more thoroughly in my next post.