Amber (@ambrouk/at JISC/of UKOER) is leaving JISC today and Lorna has written a lovely post wishing her goodbye. I’ve known amber since my days in JISC RSC Scotland North & East and she has been a fantastic supporter of my work forever ‘pimping my shit’.

Amber thank you and good luck in the new job. Here are a some flowers for you (made of your Twitter friend network, degree 1.5, nodes scaled by betweenness centrality and clustered with Spin-glass community finding algorithm ;)


Tesco have announced that from today customers in Tesco’s Extra stores will have access to free wifi:

From Aberdeen to Bournemouth, customers shopping in any of Tesco’s Extra stores will now have free, unlimited access by signing up with their Clubcard number. Those who do not have a Clubcard are able to use the service for 15 minutes free every 24 hours.

The signing up with a Clubcard number is really interesting. Not only will Tesco be able to track what you buy at the till, but having worked out the technicalities of in-store navigation using the triangulation of  wi-fi  routers they could potentially be tracking where you go in-store … or am I just being too suspicious. 


Back in July I started drafting a post about how I use Google Reader as part of my workflow as a RSC e-Learning Advisor. Those days are behind me but I still like to keep up to date with what's going and highlight stories that I find interesting and others in my network might like too.

The key part which I never got around to writing was the Share and Share with Note buttons. I'd setup these button to do a couple or extra things: using http://reader2twitter.appspot.com/ anything I shared were automatically (and almost instantly using pubhubsubbub) posted on my twitter account (I also experimented with http://ifttt.com/); and links were collated and published monthly as what I starred this month using Craig Fifield's Shared Item Posts plugin.

The thing I really liked about this setup was the tweeting of links via share worked just as well on the mobile version of Reader which meant I didn't have to faff with opening twitter clients to share stuff. Here's a graphic I started which showed the flow:

Unfortunately in Google's recent refresh of Reader as well as completely borking the user interface (way too much whitespace) share buttons are replaced by 'share on Google+' . I'm sure there are ways for me to reconnect the workflow via Google+, but instead I'm going to use it as a opportunity to try something different.

Back in August Doug Belshaw pointed me to Tiny Tiny RSS "an open source web-based news feed (RSS/Atom) aggregator, designed to allow you to read news from any location, while feeling as close to a real desktop application as possible".

The main thing I'm interested in is being able to publish selected stories to a personal RSS feed which leave me lots of mash-up opportunities. And also if TT-RSS isn't doing something I like I can hack the code. Win, win, win! (I realise installing something on a webserver won't be for everyone)

PS there is a great post on persistent.info Google Reader Social Retrospective

PPS here's what I started writing about Google Reader in July

The RSCs are all about “stimulating and supporting innovation in learning” and a big part of this is finding and highlight best practice, emerging ideas and occasionally pointing our supported institutions to some cool stuff. In England some of the RSC activity is directed to producing case studies for the Excellence Gateway.

On a more micro level (aka me) I usually spend my lunchtime with a bowel of muesli and Google Reader (for those unfamiliar with Reader it’s an RSS aggregator, and for those unfamiliar with RSS ...), sifting through almost 250 feeds trying to find interesting developments in the world of education and technology. And of the 45,905 items I’ve read in the last 6 years how do I share the best bits with you?


With over 300 items usually hitting my reader each day the first part is using some tools to surface some of the best bits. I do this in a couple of ways. First Reader has an option to take a long list of items and ‘sort by magic’. The ‘magic’ is a personalised ranking based on the items I’ve previously shared with other people. A recent additional tool I’m experimenting with is the Chrome PostRank extension which “uses social statistics from readers online -- like you -- to determine what's worth reading”


So I’ve finally found something interesting how do I get the word out. Reader comes with some useful share options shown below:


For things I want to push to my networks I’ll use Share, Share with note or Sent to > My Twitter.

Liam Green-Hughes has come up with a nice little app that lets him use the delicious bookmarklet on his Android tablet. If you use other bookmarkets on your android tablet but don’t want to create an app for it here is how you can do it in the browser:

1. On the page you want to use a bookmarklet on tap to get address bar

2. Open your bookmarks

3. Choose the bookmarklet you want to use (this page is populated from my desktop because I sync with my bookmarks in Chrome)

4. This should launch the dialogue box associated with your bookmarklet

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The xml link for this is here 

Google Gadgets are really easy all you need to do is wrap some XML around html content.

Here’s more info on getting started and there is even an online editor for creating and hosting your own gadgets

If you’re interested in developing gadgets for Google Apps, the following guides will help you get started writing gadgets for the different Google Apps containers:

The code I used

<?xml version=”1.0” encoding=”UTF-8” ?>
  <ModulePrefs title=”__UP_myname__” author=“mhawksey”author_email=[email protected]” author_location=“Edinburgh”directory_title=“FlickrGalleria” title_url=”__UP_mylink__”description=“Emebed a flickr photoset with Galleria navigation”
    <Require feature=“dynamic-height”/>
  <UserPref name=“myname” display_name=“Title” required=“true”default_value=“Galleria/Flickr Show” />
  <UserPref name=“mylink” display_name=“Title link” />
  <UserPref name=“photoset” display_name=“Photoset” required=“true”default_value=“72157626051720912”/>
  <UserPref name=“mywidth” display_name=“Width” default_value=“100%”/>
  <UserPref name=“myheight” display_name=“Height”default_value=“600px” />
  <Content type=“html”>
  <script type=”text/javascript”>

   <style type=”text/css”>
#galleria {
    width: __UP_mywidth__; 
  height: __UP_myheight__;
<script src=”http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1/jquery.min.js”></script>
<script src=”http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.org.uk/mashe/galleria/galleria.js”></script>
<script src=”http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.org.uk/mashe/galleria/plugins/galleria.flickr.js”></script>
<div id=”galleria”>Loading…
<script type=”text/javascript”>
    api_key = ‘4bb2dc0f5e1ef29c928d7e138c489508’
    var flickr = new Galleria.Flickr(api_key);
    flickr.getSet(‘__UP_photoset__’, function(data) {
        data_source: data,
        image_crop: false,
        show_info: true,
        autoplay: false,
        transition: ‘fade’,
        preload: 3,

Here’s some posts which have caught my attention this month:

Previously in Who can see your @reply in twitter I highlighted Tony’s Common Friends or Followers on Twitter script. For this you had to download some code and create a html file to run locally. Having played with the SNAPP bookmarklet which lets you  ”visualize the network of interactions resulting from discussion forum posts and replies” in various VLEs I thought it would be fun to take Tony’s code and also turn it into a bookmarklet. So now when you visit a twitter status page you can see how many people saw the @reply message in their timeline.

How to use:

  1. Copy the bookmarklet on this page 
  2. Visit any twitter status page (here’s an example) Update: Also now works when you enter tweet via twitter home page
  3. Click on the bookmarket saved to your browser and see the user overlap (as seen by the Google Social Graph API)

How it was made

  1. Tweaked Tony’s code (modified version here)
  2. Put it through this minifier
  3. Created the bookmarket using Ben Alman’s online generator (this url populates the generator with my minified code

I’ve been a serious twitter user for over a year now but only learned a fundamental of Twitter’s reply mechanism a couple of weeks ago (how embarrassing). Looking at the behaviour of some of the people I follow it makes me think others don’t know this little fact either.

If you were like me you probably assumed that if you @replied a person at the start of a tweet, this message would be seen by the person you were @replying (it appearing in their mentions) as well as being seen by all of your followers. Well if you thought that you’d be wrong. What actually happens is this tweet would only be seen by you, the @recipient and only the followers you have in common.

I overcame this ‘threshold concept’ having read and played with Tony Hirst’s Common Friends or Followers on Twitter. Using Tony’s tool I can tell you that if Tony (@psychemedia) mentioned me at the very start of a tweet of his 2795 followers only a 194 would see it.

So if you wanted to share a reply with all your followers how can you do it? Have you ever looked at your twitter stream and wondered why there is a typo a full stop at the start of one of your friends tweets (e.g. .@mhawksey you need to go on twitter 101)? If you have you probably, like me, didn’t realise this was how people get around this Twitter eccentricity.

One important thing to remember is this is only for tweets with @reply at the beginning of your tweet. Tweets with mentions in the body of the tweet will automatically be seen by all your followers. 

Update: Hmm, you could just use a service like Feedburner or Yahoo Pipes to handle the caching of the RSS bit.

On our JISC RSC Scotland North & East homepage we use a version 1 of the Twitter widget to display tweets (to tweak appearance we’ve actually modified the JS slightly, our local version of twitter.js here).

A problem we’ve had is the Twitter API rate limit would often kick in leaving the widget blank. A fix has been on my to do for a while and as it is the new year and all that. 

Using the Build a PHP Twitter Widget post by Alex Bor I came up with the following code to cache the json and rss for our Twitter feed:

To make sure we have a steady flow of tweets on our @rsc_ne_scotland twitter feed for some time we have been pulling news and events from JISC and JISC Service websites, publishing them using the dlvr.it service.

dlvr.it has some great features for manipulating RSS feeds like adding item prefix or replacing text, but because JISC/JISC Advance Services all have their own way of publishing news and events the options provided by dlvr.it didn’t give the full control we needed so I created a Yahoo Pipe of the JISC Advance Services.

If you look at the source of this pipe at first glance it looks like it just glues a number of feeds together. Delve a bit deeper into for example the JISCTechDis2Tweet node and you’ll see a sub pipe doing some additional manipulation (Another good one to look at is the JISCNetskills2Tweet sub pipe which converts an iCal feed into RSS).

All had been going well with this mashup until the new year when our twitter feed started overdosing on JISC TechDis tweets (Thanks to @paulbrichardson for pointing out). Initially I thought it was something to do with the JISC TechDis sub Yahoo Pipe because I needed to rebuild the timestamp for this particular feed, but this appeared to be ticking along nicely.

Delving into the dlvr.it settings I noticed that I had originally set it to trickle feed updates oldest first. I’m pretty sure this was the cause of the problem. For good measures in the advance settings I also turned on ignore feed timestamps (the feed is date ordered using Yahoo Pipes anyway).

PS if you have problems getting dlvr.it to accept you Yahoo Pipe feed (HTTP 999 Error), just put it through Feedburner