Archive for the ‘General Information’ Category

Google Maps Mashup Guest Lecture

April 11th, 2011
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I was recently invited to speak in Dr. Anuradha Mukherji’s Urban Planning class. She is getting her students to collect data and produce a map mashup to display the data. My role as guest lecturer was to talk about mashups, map mashups, and provide information and resources for someone wanting to produce a map with no programming requirements. Here is the slide collection I showed:

[slideshare id=7525206&doc=mapmashups-110405122302-phpapp01]

As usual when I get to speak about mapping, visualization, and data analysis, I was very excited to share the resources and lessons learned.

ECU Web Sites, General Information, How To

VCL Best Practices Talk

March 23rd, 2011
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Shown via SlideShare, the following slides were presented at a March 18, 2001 Office of Faculty Excellence workshop. Professor Lee Toderick ( and I co-presented on the topic of best practices for incorporating East Carolina University’s Virtual Computing Lab.

You can also watch the video of the presentation (requires ECU login).

[slideshare id=7362040&doc=vclbestpracticesfinal-110323131436-phpapp01]

General Information, How To

Helping Others Help You

January 24th, 2011
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Today’s topic is one near and dear to everyone at TechTips: ways for everyone to help IT staff maintain your work computer.  Posted at the Microsoft At Work blog (also available as an RSS feed), the article describes “8 simple ways to help IT maintain your computer and devices at work“.  It’s good advice for all of us, and many of the tips apply to personal / home computers and devices as well.

General Information, How To

Social network account security

November 23rd, 2010
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I saw this post in my Sharepoint RSS feeds and thought I’d share it with everyone. If you’re an avid Facebook or Social Media user, personally or within your particular college or department, the article points out some tips and practices to help prevent malicious activities on your accounts.

Most of this is common sense, to me at least, but typically the problem is people don’t adhere to to following them routinely.

General Information ,

Mobile Monday: Google Phone Gallery

October 4th, 2010
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Android Logo

Because of the confusion about the features, capabilities, and carriers for the many Android based phones, Google has created a new tool to let you compare and contrast devices.  Pictures are included, as well as the ability to filter on various criteria.  Give it a try: Google Phone Gallery.

General Information ,

Mobile Monday: iPhone Todo List Variation

July 12th, 2010
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Organizing all the tasks we have to complete is often a dull but necessary chore.  To help fight the boredom, a new application for iPod Touch / iPhone will make your task list into a role playing game.  No longer “chores”, you now have “quests”.  For those of you raised on either paper and pen RPGs or the newer electronic MMORPGs, this could be just what you’ve been looking for   The As of this posting, the described application is not yet available in the App Store, but look for it to be released soon.  In the mean time, check out the information at the Epicwin site (including video!):

General Information


June 11th, 2010
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Today’s project is for the more adventuresome sorts who enjoy tinkering with their home networks, getting the most performance and features our of consumer grade (read: the stuff you would buy at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc. as opposed to ordering from Cisco) routers and wireless access points.  If you didn’t know, the “little boxes” that most all of us have in our homes actually have some level of operating system (in the form of firmware) running on them.  You may run a web interface and periodically update this firmware yourself.  Updating the firmware usually involves visiting a web page hosted by your router’s manufacturer, downloading a file, and then using the router’s web interface to upload the file to the device.

Given that many of these home routers run a variant of Linux, it became possible to modify the default distribution as shipped by the manufacturer and make it better, faster, strong, more convenient, etc.  One of the first routers that became wildly popular for this kind of tinkering was the Linksys (now Cisco) WRT54G.  One very popular alternative firmware for this device is DD-WRT.  As more and more devices became replaceable-firmware friendly, the projects such as DD-WRT expanded to support more and more hardware.  As new devices are released, the DD-WRT team determines if they can make a replacement firmware.

If you do have a compatible device, you might want to give DD-WRT a try.  It exposes features of the hardware that the original Cisco/Linksys/whoever didn’t necessarily make available to end users.  As a simple example, DD-WRT lets you associate a device’s MAC address with a fixed IP address.  By default, the device simply assigns IP addresses to devices as they request addresses.  That complicates doing things like opening ports for server applications and using a network printer; you have to constantly update applications to repoint to the current correct address.

As the web site says, it is possible to make your device no longer functional, so don’t use an alternative firmware unless you’re fairly confident about doing experiments with your hardware.  You don’t have to do anything very different from a normal upgrde, but if you’ve never done that and wouldn’t know how to, then this type of software isn’t for you.

As always, it’s not FLOSS Friday without a screen shot:

DD-WRT Main Settings

Since the image doesn’t capture the details very well, it’s much better if you visit the interface demo at the DD-WRT site.

General Information, Software ,

Web Wednesday: Bing Treasure Maps

June 9th, 2010
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Many people reading this have no doubt been long time users of MapQuest, Google Maps, or Yahoo! Maps.  Microsoft has worked hard at adding features and usability to its maps application, Bing Maps.  The Microsoft mapping team has a new feature: Bing Destination Maps.  These walk you through creating a map to share via e-mail, embed in a document, or print.  There are three styles: European Style, American Style, Sketch Style, and Treasure Style.  This being ECU, there’s only one choice for your stylish destination map: Treasure Style!

One important detail: this web application requires Microsoft Silverlight, so you’ll need to download and install that to try out this application.  For the Linux desktop users out there, I don’t know if the current release of Moonlight will work.

General Information

FLOSS Friday: SkyDrive

May 14th, 2010
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With ECU converting all student e-mail accounts to Outlook Live, they have access to a very nice feature of all “standard” Microsoft Live accounts, 25 gigabytes of free storage.  If you are not a student, you can sign up for a free Live account and also get the 25G.  You can connect to all users, including ECU students.  If you have a Rocketmail, MSN, or Xbox Live account, you already have an account suitable for using with the Live tools, including SkyDrive.

One of the problems with using SkyDrive compared to, say, DropBox, is that there’s only a web interface to up/download files.  There’s no appliction that makes the space look like a drive on your computer.  However, if you have a Windows machine, you can take advantage of a tip from Paul Thurrott to mount your SkyDrive.  If you prefer a less hacky solution, you can try Gladinet Cloud Desktop or SDExplorer.

Because I include a screen shot if I can, here’s a portion of my browser window showing some SkyDrive folders:

A Sample of the SkyDrive Web Interface

Besides SkyDrive, Microsoft has other features when you use your Live account, so explore the links and options.  Even if you don’t, free cloud storage of 25G is nothing to sneeze at.

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Mobile Safari View Source Bookmarklet

April 27th, 2010
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If you’re working with mobile interfaces on iPod/iPhone/iPad, many sites automatically change their JavaScript, CSS, and HTML for a mobile friendly presentation.  If you’re a web designer and want to know “how did they do that?”, then you’re constantly wishing for “view source” functionality in mobile Safari.  Well want no longer, because I’ve linked to a fantastic bookmarklet to provide the functionality, as well as a detailed explanation of how to get the bookmarklet to work in the first place.  It’s all linked in my ECU blog.

General Information, Web Design