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New Print Theme for MIDD/MIIS sites & Additional GO Revisions

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We recently updated the GO application with a new editing interface including more verbose, color coded, messages as well as additional input validation. We are looking for feedback as to the ease of use, etc. so please share any suggestions or feedback with us.

Also a comment/reason is now required when flagging go links to give admins a clearer idea of why a link was flagged. Thanks to all who have helped us by flagging links so far.

Do you need to get a hold of someone about changing a GO shortcut or becoming an admin of the shortcut? Try contacting the shortcut administrator. We’ve made a 1min 30sec screencast on how to determine the administrator(s) of a GO shortcut.

NOTE: It is no longer possible to “hide” GO links. GO by its nature is a public application with publicly searchable and publicly usable links. “Hiding” a GO link is more or less a misnomer and is no longer supported. If you have hidden GO links they may be unhidden. If you feel you have a legitimate reason to hide GO links and you are concerned about this please feel free to contact go@middlebury.edu.

Also, the main Middlebury and Monterey Institute of International Studies sites now have print themes. Please enjoy the new printer friendly pages that are generated on print/print preview.

Find a GO link ina”GO”priate? Do something about it!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We are happy to announce a new feature to the GO shortcut application, the ability to flag go links as inappropriate. While our community of users is certainly of the highest caliber, the GO application is susceptible to the occasional prank or other abuse. If you stumble upon a link that may not meet our community standards please use our new “flag as inappropriate” feature to make an admin aware of the link.

This feature is available from the info link featured next to each link in the Gotionary. Just look for this icon info icon.

On the info page you’ll have access to a “flag as inappropriate” button:

flag as inappropriate button

If you’d like to flag a link as inappropriate, simply click the button. You’ll see the following message:

flagged as inappropriate message

As per the message, one of our capable admins will review the link at a later time and take any necessary action.

We hope that this new feature helps make the GO application even more relevant and useful to the community. Your participation in managing GO links helps keep our online community healthy and active. Visit go here: http://go.middlebury.edu/

New Course Schedule Planner

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We have just introduced a new course schedule planning tool to help students discover courses and arrange selections of them that avoid timing conflicts.

When browsing the online catalog at go/catalog you can now log in and save courses that you find interesting. Look for “Save” links to the top-right of course descriptions. Courses can be saved either from the search view or from the detail views linked-to from department course listings.

 

This screen-cast gives an overview of the Schedule-Planner and how to use it:

Notable features:

  • Save courses at any time as you come across interesting ones.
  • Create one or more schedules for a term to see how different course selections might fit together.
  • Ensures that discussion and lab sections are considered.
  • Time-conflicts are highlighted.
  • Schedules can be emailed to an adviser or anyone else.
  • Schedules can be printed to aid in finding classrooms.

Please note that this tool is designed as a planning and advising aid — it does not register you for classes. Also, it does not have access to individual student records and hence does not check that prerequisites have been met.

The Schedule Planner is still in Beta for the next few weeks, please try it out and provide feedback so that we can address any problems before new students arrive on campus.

New WordPress Themes Available

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We’ve made several changes to the WordPress platform, known on-campus as sites.middlebury.edu. Hey! You’re there right now!

New Header

Soon, we will update the design of the header so that a small bar appears across every blog we host with some useful links. This design is modeled on blogger.com and its purpose is to foster a sense of community amongst the many blogs we host on the site. You can read more about this design in the original White Whale strategic recommendations document on the Web Redo blog, but here is the recommendation that led us to make this change:

Once some Midd-specific WordPress themes are created, Middlebury’s blogs should be linked together via a unifying header or title bar element of some kind. The bar across the top of most Blogger blogs is a good example; it doesn’t interfere with the branding or messaging of the blog itself, but provides quick and consistent links back to the Blogger homepage and other blogs. Once some Midd-specific WordPress themes are created, Middlebury’s blogs should be linked together via a unifying header or title bar element of some kind. The bar across the top of most Blogger blogs is a good example; it doesn’t interfere with the branding or messaging of the blogitself, but provides quick and consistent links back to the Blogger homepage and other blogs.

The logo at the top left will bring you to the home page of our blogging network. If you’d like posts from your blog to appear there, send an email to website@middlebury.edu and we’ll add you to the list.

New Themes

There are three new themes available on our blogging platform. These are based on designs we received from the people who put together our new site design. We put these together in a way that makes them each to set up. The catch is that there are very few configuration options for these themes. That means these are great for people who want to set up a blog quickly and aren’t interested in doing a lot of customization on the look-and-feel of their blog. Additionally, these themes do not work properly in Internet Explorer 6. As of today, only 3.06% of visitors to our blogs use this browser and we are going to recommend phasing out support.

For themes that offer you a massive variety of customization options, be sure to check out the many theme options Alex Chapin has created for our blogging network.

BLOGS DOT MIDDLEBURY Navy

The new Navy (as in blue) theme offers a straight-forward, even minimalist, design for your blog. There is no background image on this theme, which offers two columns for you to add widgets. The left column only appears on pages with more than one post: the blog home page, search results, and archives. If you are viewing a single post or page on this theme, the left sidebar will disappear, giving the post more space on the page.

BLOGS DOT MIDDLEBURY Pastoral

The Pastoral theme features an image of the Bread Loaf campus as its background. This theme uses the same two-column format as the Navy theme, with the left column only appearing when more than one post is being displayed. The big difference with this theme is that you can change the background image if you like (more on that later).

BLOGS DOT MIDDLEBURY Map

The Map theme uses a professionally done watercolor illustration of the campus as its default background. As with the “Pastoral” theme, you can change the background image if you like. The big difference with this theme is that the left column is on the left of the blog’s content. Because of this positioning, both columns appear on all views of the blog, even when viewing a single post. Use this theme if you really like columns!

MiddLab Blog Theme

We’ve also added a new theme that you can use for a research project that you would like us to feature in MiddLab. Remember to send your MiddLab project ideas to middlab@middlebury.edu and check out the site to discuss the ongoing research projects of your fellow faculty, staff and students.

Setting up one of these themes

To add one of these themes to your blog:

  1. Click the Log in link at the top right of the page and fill in your username and password.
  2. Click the Dashboard link at the top right of the page.
  3. In the Appearance box on the left, click the Themes link.
  4. Click Activate below the picture of the theme you want to use.
  5. In the Appearance box on the left, click the Widgets link.
  6. Drag the widgets you want to use from the boxes in the center to the Left Column or Right Column boxes on the right.
  7. You’re done!

Adding a custom background image

Middlebury’s status as a top school depends on offering the services our students require. Perhaps one day Middlebury will accept penguins as applicants and you’ll be asked to create a blog for the new Office of Penguin Services and you’ll realize that you need a background image that speaks to the students you’re helping. Our themes support this.

This can only be done on the Pastoral or Map themes.

  1. Click the Log in link at the top right of the page and fill in your username and password.
  2. Click the Dashboard link at the top right of the page.
  3. In the Appearance box on the left, click the Custom Header link.
  4. Click the Browse button, select the image you want to use and click OK.
  5. You’ll be asked to crop the image you chose. Select the part of the image to use as the background and click Crop Image.
  6. You’re done!

More GO Info

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Since we moved GO to its new home last week I’ve been busy fixing a number of bugs that have come up, as well as made a few improvements that I hope will be helpful.

Today’s big improvement is that the GOtionary now provides info pages for every shortcut.

The info page will tell you who created and who administers the shortcut so that you know who to contact to when a link is broken. As well, the info page will now serve as the landing page when trying to access a broken GO shortcut, rather than being presented with a blank screen.

Head to the GOtionary to check it out.

GO is moving to a new server

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Over the past few years the GO shortcut and redirection application has become central to the college’s web infrastructure, allowing easy-to-remember permalinks that can be updated as resources are moved.

Tomorrow morning we will be migrating GO from a multi-use Windows server to its own RedHat server. The primary impetus for this move is to resolve a PHP-on-Windows memory leak bug that has taken out GO for several minutes every few months. In addition to this bug fix, migrating GO to its new environment allows a few additional improvements at this time:

  • GO will be on its own server, more isolated from interference from other applications
  • GO will now fail-over to a secondary database should its primary database become unavailable.
  • Improved user-information caching will dramatically speed up the self-service admin screens
  • Redirects will now be re-written internally, requiring one less round-trip to the GO application for every redirect.
  • go/shortcut should now work more reliably on the MIIS network without having to type the full go.miis.edu/shortcut URL in the address bar.

    Note: the full http://go.middlebury.edu/shortcut or http://go.miis.edu/shortcut URL should still be used when putting links in websites or email.

  • The GOtionary will now live under go.middlebury.edu and go.miis.edu, allowing go.miis.edu to have its own logo.

We do not anticipate that this migration process will result in any downtime as the new GO server and the old GO server will both continue to operate at the same time, against the same database. After we switch the DNS records for go.middlebury.edu and go.miis.edu users will slowly move over to the new GO server as their computers look up the address of go.middlebury.edu again. For on-campus users this may happen quickly, while for off-campus users it may take several weeks. After the vast majority of users are accessing the new GO server (likely two weeks or so), we will turn off the old GO server.

Update 1 – June 23rd

We successfully migrated go.middlebury.edu to the new host and haven’t had any problems. We’ll be waiting for a while for go.miis.edu to switch over.

WordPress Update

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Earlier this week, we updated WordPress (the platform that powers sites.middlebury.edu).  Along with updating the WordPress codebase, we also updated all the Midd blog themes and a number of plugins.  There were many changes made to the backend of Midd blog themes to make them more flexible and easier to use.

Options have been added for what sidebars get displayed when viewing single post pages, as well as pages for categories, tags, authors and search.  Lots of small design refinements has been made to make make blogs easier to read.  For a full list of changes, see:

WordPressThemesChange Log

New blogs will now be created with the Translucence theme and a default set of sidebar widgets.  Documentation has been added for many of plugins, for example see: Geo-mashup