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My Recent Projects

Rather than blog about my recent work, I thought I'd try Google Sites. I'm not exactly sure why, but a Site does have the ability to break things down into pages, rather than creating ONE HUGE blog post, or an unconnected stream of related posts.

There's stuff about Google Apps to create web applications or improve processes,  Livecode multimedia authoring and a little visualisation stuff.

Anyway, here it is:

https://sites.google.com/a/york.ac.uk/tom-smith/2014-2015-projects


Recent posts

Reflections on Wuthering Bytes

A week or so ago I went to the Wuthering Bytes conference in Hebden Bridge. The event had a maker/hacker/thinker angle I was keen to snoop into, to find out what people were up to in this strange world that seems to have blossomed whilst I wasn't looking.


The presentations began with Prof. Danielle George, who I heard being interview on Radio 4 on the way in to work about her work with radio engineering... from looking deep into space, to controlling jet engines to monitoring field moisture levels for effective agriculture.


Next up Stephen Jagger, gave us an amusing history of an audio engineering company, making microphones and mixer desks for the BBC. My favourite part was about the white lie they told to get their biggest gig. 


Leila Johnston, in unbelievable shoes, shared her work with Hack Circus, a publication that tackles a "geek" subject, but strangley, before it is published always mutates into an art event, and focal point for "community outsiders". 
T…

Apps Used in York's Archaeology Data Service

Following a short presentation about online apps we're looking at at York, Michael Charno got in touch and said..


The following are apps that we use at the Archaeology Data Service:

* Asana [https://asana.com/]: Its a really simple task management app
that enables task allocation, commenting, prioritising, creating
deadlines, etc. Its free for use amongst 10 colleagues, so we've
been fine with it so far.
* New Relic [http://newrelic.com/]: Systems analytics software for
understanding where problems exist in servers/web
applications/interfaces. Obviously more useful for people managing
servers or web applications, so might not be widely useful. However
if the university was going to get a license we'd happily join in!
* Slack [https://slack.com/]: We used the free version but quit after
we found ourselves moving to the 10,000 message limit quickly and
didn't want to purchase a license. We haven't replaced it, but would
certainly start using it again if the university was going to…

My Reflections on ALTC 2015

Photo credit : Chris Bull www.chrisbullphotographer.com pictures@chrisbullphotographer.com +44 (0)7968440920
Last week I spent three days at the Association for Learning Technology Conference (#altc) in Manchester. 

It’s been a good few years since I’ve done the conference thing but I was looking forward to totally immersing myself in ideas and learning from people's’ experiences.

The conference themes were:

Harnessing the power of the crowd – collaboration and connectivist learning Learners as agents of change Open educational practice Participatory approaches to the development of learning technologies Social media in learning and teaching The Emergent Themes - What It Really Was About

For me, the standout sessions and the ideas that seemed to permeate most of the conference were:

Learning Analytics Research and reports regarding User Centred Methodologies and Pedagogies Novel approaches and research to learning  i.e technologies, apps, MOOCs, IoT, wearables etc

… but this of course coul…

Getting the Edit Link From A Google Form Response

This code snippet may be of use to someone. I couldn't find an easier way of doing this. You need to familiar with Apps Script and Forms to get this, sorry.

When you have a Google Form saving responses into a Google Spreadsheet, at times it would be nice to be able to give people the link to edit their form ( later ).

So.. in your onFormSubmit(e) function you need...

var timestamp = e.range.getValues()[0][0]
var row_num = e.range.getRow()

If you get the value from e.values or e.namedValues it doesn't work. No idea why... it may be something to do with millisecond precision or the space/time continuum... dunno.

Then you need a function like this...


/**
* Gets edit link for a response's timestamp
*
* @method render_text
* @param {string} Form ID"
* @param {timestamp} A date
* @return {string} A URL.
*/
function get_edit_link_for(form_id, timestamp){

  var form = FormApp.openById(form_id)
  var formResponses = form.getResponses();

  // Let's work backwards through the list, should…

The Rebirth of Authoring? Making iPad apps with LiveCode

I recently was asked if I'd heard of an authoring tool for creating iPad apps called LiveCode.

I don't know if you know, but LiveCode is like the only living grandchild of a tool called HyperCard. And you might not also know, that like the post punk band, Killing Joke, HyperCard is one of those subjects that makes me want to sit you down and tell you stories from days of yore. For EVER.

You see, HyperCard was the tool that I first did any programming with, back in 1991. The Apple Macintosh was billed as "The Computer For The Rest Of Us"... and HyperCard, bundled free with every Macintosh was "Programming For The Rest Of Us".

But before I can regale you with tales of HyperCard's features, you need to understand the context from which HyperCard sprang. You have to do some homework.

Your Homework
You have to go back to 1945,  a the time when Vannevar Bush outlined how a conceptual HyperText machine called Memex would work, and how trails would be created t…

I Want To Improve My Spreadsheet

I often get people coming to visit me who have a spreadsheet they want to get more from. They either want to automate certain tasks, or create new sheets with aggregated data or share data with colleagues in new ways. The hope is that with a little bit of code, new vistas will open up.

Often the data is in a spreadsheet, it isn't clean enough to do anything useful with. If code is to stand a chance at making a spreadsheet more useful, then the data itself needs to be "code ready".

Below is an actual spreadsheet brought to me, with number of areas for that needed data cleaning.




As we worked together, we realised, a healthy spreadsheet isn't just about making sure your data is logical, there are also other factors that contribute to how easy your data will be to work with.

Use formulas well - A few easy to learn formulas can significantly ramp up what you can do quickly with data. It is worth investing even just a few minutes learning new formulas and what they can do for…