Author Archives: Ian McBride

About Ian McBride

I'm a web developer at Middlebury.

Friday Links – August 23, 2013

No more “20% time” at Google – “Google’s “20% time,” which allows employees to take one day a week to work on side projects, effectively no longer exists. That’s according to former Google employees, one who spoke to Quartz on the condition of anonymity and others who have said it publicly.”

Increasing public access to federally funded research – This is not new, but for researchers and data nerds alike it is worth reading again – and following developments! You can find the official memo here:

A tiny book!  – from University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections.
Rosen, Rebecca J. “Revealed: A Book the Size of a Ladybug.” The Atlantic. 7 Aug. 2013. Web. 22 Aug. 2013.

The Getty launches Open Content Images: 4,687 images from their collection are now available for free use under their open content license.

WebKit Has Implemented srcset: Right now there’s no good way to switch the image in an HTML <img> tag for a different browser (for example, giving a smaller image to a mobile browser). The srcset attribute solves most of the issues with this. See also: Mat’s talk on the subject.

QR Codes vs. URLs. In related news, Microsoft Tag is shutting down. Did you even know that Microsoft Tag existed?

Internet Trends 2013  InternetDog





Friday links – August 16, 2013

New Animated PNG Creation Tools Intend To Bring APNG Into Mainstream Use: While grainy GIF images can have entertaining uses, they aren’t the ideal animated image format due to lack of full color support and an alpha channel [for varied transparency]. Animated PNG doesn’t have these faults and has been available and incorporated in quite a few browsers since roughly 2004.

10 ways tech support has changed since the 1980s: Over the past 30 years, IT has seen some monumental changes — and they’ve had a huge impact on the field of tech support. See if you remember the way it used to be.

Touch Laptop Forecasts: Only 10-15% of laptops sold this year will be touch-enabled. Sales of touch-enabled Dell and HP laptops are declining, but Lenovo’s touch laptops will be 50% of their sales in the next 2-3 years.

What to Expect in WordPress 3.7 and 3.8: The 3.7 update will come in October and feature better internationalization support while 3.8 is planned for the end of the year and will include an overhaul of the admin interface and a new Twenty Fourteen theme. If you have thoughts on improving the dashboard take their survey.

Web Development

The New IE11 Developer Tools: Microsoft has improved the script debugger, added a memory analysis tool, and cleaned up the display of inherited styles in the DOM explorer.

uCSS and CSS Dig: Two tools that can be used to crawl a website and produce reports to help us clean up unused and redundant CSS declarations. This might be helpful in organizing our own stylesheets.

Libraries & Librarians

NPR’s Bob Mondello gave a nostalgic, sometimes humorous view of libraries last week: Libraries’ Leading Roles: On Stage, On Screen And In Song

Have online journals evolved beyond their readers? “… science has become abstracted away from practitioners. It has disappeared from the tangible world as journals have disappeared from tables, desks, and waiting rooms. …”


Google’s “Opt-out village” (from The Onion) –

Wiki Wars: The ten most controversial Wikipedia pages (from CNN)

Friday links – August 9, 2013

Web Content

Firefox 23 Released: Features a network traffic monitor on the desktop version and added security when browsing sites under HTTPS. Oh, and the <blink> element is no more.

Facebook Announces ‘Story Bumping’: The newsfeed algorithm is changing to promote items you haven’t seen from earlier in the day that have high engagement to the top of your newsfeed.

Google SERPs to include In-Depth Articles: Their webmasters blog details how sites can work to identify articles in ways that the googlebot spider can process.

A Facebook Post’s Lifetime: Posts achieve 50% of their total lifetime reach within the first 30 minutes, 75% in the first two hours, which means that timing the post to appear when most of your fans are online is critical.

Web Development

Follow-up on Data URI Performance: Decoding the base64 string does not appear to be the reason for the slowdown in performance on rendering SVG images passed to the browser in this way, as mentioned in a previous week’s links.

Making smartphone sites load fast: Bryan McQuade writes about techniques we can use to get page rendering down to under 1 second, required for good mobile performance.

WordPress 3.6 available on and

New features:

  • Twenty Thirteen Theme: A responsive theme that is now the default for new sites. The Twenty Ten, Twenty Eleven, and Twenty Twelve (along with the 100+ other themes we have installed) are still available for use.
  • Local Autosave: Your edits are now saved locally in your browser in addition to on the server so if you lose network connectivity while editing you won’t accidentally lose your work.
  • Post Locking: When you’re editing a post and someone else starts editing it there is now an interface letting you know that someone is taking over editing. Also, your autosaves are unique to you, so other editors won’t overwrite them.
  • Easy Audio/Video Embeds: Paste the URL of a .mp4 or .mp3 file into your post and WordPress will provide the player.
  • Revision Browser: The interface for looking at post revisions is significantly easier to use.

Friday links – August 2, 2013

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

University of Oregon Ripple: An open source mobile audience participation application.

Web Content

Universal Analytics and user-centric analytics: What Google’s new Universal Analytics platform is doing and what it might be positioned to do in the future to track individual users across multiple devices.

Social Media in Higher Education: A curated Flipboard of articles from the last month on this topic, with many focusing on analytics.

4 Tips From Google To Make Your Website More Compelling: Resist organizing content according to pre-formed taxonomies of ideas and try to think from the user’s perspective–then make sure to test and test again with real users.

Higher Education Search Analysis Q2 2013: Good news for Middlebury! Searches for higher education resources with a strong relation to the liberal arts and a residential location were up compared to last year.

Facebook adds embedded posts

Google launches real-time analytics API beta

Matt Mullenweg: State of the Word 2013: Matt discusses the upcoming 3.6, 3.7, and 3.8 versions of WordPress. The release video for 3.6 is at about 7:00 and features native audio and video embed support and a better revision browser. 3.8 will include a redesigned administration interface and is slated for release this December.


Web Development

Protect Your Website From Its Embedded Content: Security considerations for the new sandbox and seamless attributes to the iFrame element.

Facebook’s Huxley and the BBC’s Wraith: UI testing tools that compare screenshots of your web application and lets you know if things change that you aren’t expecting to change.

Google PageSpeed Insights: Updated to include tips for mobile speed improvements.


Students Prefer Print for Serious Academic Reading: A study that will be published in College & Research Libraries shows that while students read for pleasure on devices, they prefer print for academic work. Among other reasons, this preference may owe to print being a less distracting medium, with easier ways to highlight and take notes.

The Professor Who Declared, It’s J.K. Rowling: Stylometry software was used to help build the case that J.K. Rowling penned crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling under a pseudonym. The comments to this article are great reading, too.

July 2013 Web Stats

For trend comparison, the previous month’s statistics are included in parentheses.


  1. 371,746 (333,036) visits from 198,853 (180,556) people
  2. 48,060 (36,597) visits from 36,711 (30,979) people
  3. 26,964 (6,356) visits from 19,929 (4,643) people
  4. 22,004 (19,943) visits from 20,619 (18,762) people
  5. 13,779 (3,553) visits from 9,633 (3,023) people
  6. 10,087 (5,229) visits from 8,759 (4,182) people
  7. 8,763 (7,803) visits from 8,431 (7,551) people
  8. 7,045 (4,721) visits from 5,647 (3,493) people
  9. 6,270 visits from 4,259 people
  10. 5,878 (5,559) visits from 5,691 (5,227) people

Top Pages

  1. 234,814 (202,738) pageviews
  2. 33,831 (8,119) pageviews
  3. 20,088 (17,404) pageviews
  4. 15,897 (12,802) pageviews
  5. 15,266 (2,930) pageviews
  6. 14,544 (6,961) pageviews
  7. 14,069 (3,613) pageviews
  8. 10,719 (11,507) pageviews
  9. 10,571 (8,421) pageviews
  10. 8,329 (7,700) pageviews

Search Terms

  1. Search Midd: 545 (492)
  2. course hub: 395 (44)
  3. academic calendar: 249 (151)
  4. go/hub: 248 (24)
  5. moodle: 181 (32)
  6. go/moodle: 141 (8)
  7. go/mail: 95 (25)
  8. go hub: 83 (24)
  9. go/papercut: 77 (8)
  10. ian cameron: 75 (0)


  • Safari: 32.47% (33.20%)
    • Desktop Safari: 23.04% (23.12%)
    • Mobile Safari: 9.43% (10.08%)
  • Chrome: 22.49% (23.16%)
  • Internet Explorer: 22.00% (21.28%)
    • IE8: 12.57% (10.77%)
    • IE10: 4.63% (4.45%)
    • IE9: 2.59% (3.67%)
    • IE7: 2.14% (2.27%)
    • IE6: 0.06% (0.10%)
  • Firefox: 19.34% (18.80%)
  • Android Browser: 1.15% (1.24%)


  • Windows: 47.90% (47.79%)
  • Macintosh: 38.19% (37.96%)
  • iOS: 10.37% (10.92%)
  • Android: 1.85% (1.88%)
  • Linux: 0.34% (0.44%)
  • BlackBerry: 0.08% (0.09%)
  • Windows Phone: 0.05% (0.06%)

July 2013 Social Media Stats

The following stats refer to activity on the Middlebury College Facebook page, the Middlebury College Twitter account, and share buttons on the main Middlebury College website. For trend comparison, the previous month’s statistics are included in parentheses, where appropriate.

Facebook Insights

  • 148 (179) new people liked our Page, while 33 (44) people unliked our Page.
  • 499 (932) unique people shared stories about our page. These stories include liking our Page, posting to our Page’s Wall, liking, commenting on or sharing one of our Page posts, answering a Question we posted, RSVPing to one of our events, mentioning our Page, phototagging our Page or checking in at our Place. [Daily People Talking About This]
  • 17370 (29230) unique people saw one of the items shared in that way. [Daily Viral Reach]
  • 49731 (69940) unique people saw content associated with our Page. [Daily Total Reach]

Top Five Facebook Posts

“Reach” is the number of people who saw the post. “Engagement” is the number of people who clicked on the post.

  1. Beautiful Middlebury campus footage at mid-summer, captured by Communications Office graduate intern Matt Lennon ’13.. Reach: 6808, Engagement: 436
  2. What did General Lee see (or, more significantly, NOT see) at Gettysburg? Prof. Anne Knowles tells the Associated Press how GIS mapping is giving new insight into the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. . Reach: 5710, Engagement: 139
  3. Watch Middlebury’s past and present converge in this fun short video produced by Brendan Mahoney ’11. It’s the college’s “Thank You” for donors to the Annual Fund.. Reach: 5684, Engagement: 272
  4. Countdown to 58%! If Middlebury reaches 58 percent alumni participation by June 30, a generous donor will give $58,000 for financial aid. Reach: 5632, Engagement: 102
  5. Middlebury’s PTP/NYC Season Opener Off Broadway. Reach: 5148, Engagement: 186


ShareThis is a service that tracks the clicks on the sharing buttons on our website. These buttons are shown on news postings, which are primarily found in the News RoomArtsSustainability, and Athleticssections of the site.

Shares By Channel

  • Facebook: 37 (27) Shares, 990 (2201) Clicks
  • Twitter: 20 (15) Shares, 166 (376) Clicks
  • LinkedIn: 4 (0) Shares, 1 (0) Clicks
  • Google+: 2 (0) Shares, 0 (0) Clicks
  • Google Reader: 1 (0) Shares), 0 (0) Clicks
  • Email: 0 (18) Shares, 569 (226) Clicks

Data Sets

Friday links – July 26, 2013

“Flipped” classes – A clear-eyed look at “flipped” teaching, from CHE.  The author argues flipped classes require more classroom support than a traditional lecture course, and more contact with and more engagement from students, but it can also mean more learning.

Ebbeler, Jennifer. “‘Introduction to Ancient Rome,’ the Flipped Version.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 22 July 2013. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Web. 22 July 2013. (

Google Play adding Textbook Rentals this August

Web Content

2013 Noel Levitz e-Expectations Report: 98% of prospective students report that they will open an email from a school they are interested in attending. 20% have downloaded that school’s mobile app.

How Gmail’s New Inbox is Affecting Open Rates: Our list emails won’t be able to avoid getting stuffed in the new Promotions tab, but it only appears to be decreasing open rates from 13% to 12% so far.

Portal Websites: The Great Content Divide: “Segmenting content by audience type introduces a slew of content problems most organizations are not prepared for. While it’s important to prioritize and plan for your target audiences, it’s a risky business limiting content and user options. Doing so limits your audiences’ ability to learn and discover and your content’s potential to inform and delight.”

Web Development

Optimizing the Critical Rendering Path: Why we need to start thinking about CSS declarations in the header instead of in separate files and asynchronous JavaScript file includes for faster mobile rendering.

Data URIs are 6x Slower than Source Linking: Including the image data on a page as a base64 encoded string is slower than using an image tag because even if it saves HTTP requests, the browser has to decode the image on every page load.

CSS3 And Flexbox: Flexbox allows for better control over positioning and sizing of page elements. Right now there aren’t good ways to vertically center content or make two boxes the same height on the page. Flexbox solves that, but isn’t well supported in the browser yet.

The web is getting a vibration API