Friday, July 13, 2007

talking in code...and then not

aka "we're not in Kansas anymore"

Right well, the developers conference is definitely a whole new experience for me. I am at this event for two reasons (and I keep reminding myself about these to avoid meltdown) - we are presenting on the portal to share with sys admin types the quick wins they can get from creative development strategies and I thought it would be good for my own professional development to get a better understanding of the issues/experiences of the Mary/Colin branch of e-learning at SHU. So please accept the above sentence as the disclaimer for all that follows.

The afternoon had three sessions - what to attend in the second and third slots were taken care of. Session 2 a presentation from Bb about what you can extract from Bb gradebook (eg for seperate backup, migration to SI etc) which is a hot topic for us, there was also a bit of how to do it but as you can imagine I just sang a song in my head at that point. Session 3 was us - I think we were the "light relief" had about 25 or 30 people at the session, we had to declare up front there will be no code and we will talk conceptually....but they were quite engaged, made some notes, laughed at the jokes plus, thankfully Ian from Deakin was in there too (he was doing the same as me, so I didn't feel quite so odd).

However, I was really struggling to find something for the first session - best of a bad bunch was "Using Web Services to Delivery Library Resources in Bb Software", in my defence, I did understand all the words in the title and I'd had some success in the main conference with sessions run by people from North Carolina. The guy presenting was their Bb Systems Administrator, he was nice enough and a reasonably good speaker but very quickly started talking about ASP.NET, JSPActionScript3.0, MXML, Adobe Flex, JSON.NET and a lot of other stuff like that.

There were two or three things that were interesting to me - he said that as the Bb Systems Administrator he had 3 big clients that he had to support and make sure their needs are addressed in delivering Bb (and in this order) - IT infrastructure and services, distance learning multimedia development team and the weird, did anyone else expect to see a different list? Also the thing he had designed was to embed a list of relevant library journals and databases within Bb courses as a flash image - good idea, of course, but it it had been developed by someone trying to meet the needs of IT infrastructure, multimedia and library - not at all pretty. We are very, very lucky to have Mary and Colin and don't let us ever forget it. At one point he did refer to when he had "assumed the Blackboard position" which distracted me for a while, maybe an idea for a photo competition... OK, so that was all in about the first 10 minutes of the 50 minute session, he then went on to show and talk through all the lines of code...he was, quite literally, talking in code...I checked my email. At one point I turned to look at Malcolm Murray from Durham who was "highly amused" by my somewhat anguished state. To sum up the session at one point he said "you need to tell the flash animation how to get the variables" and most of the other people in the room seemed pretty comfortable with those sorts of conversations ;-)


smodge said...

Now you see I would have understood that.. I really would - I probably wouldn't have known how to do it, but I'd know what he meant..

As for talking in code - I feel your pain.

Angie Donoghue said...

Well that all sounds very odd. Why did they want him to embed resources in this way? Good effort choosing the library option though.

Brian said...

People from NC are great (well, mostly, except those with kidtails).

Did the developer's conference end with the following recommendation?


Louise said...

In response to your question, Angie - gotta say I've pondered that a bit myself recently. I can see the embedded reading list logic (although it is interesting to note how quickly we have encountered the limitations of that approach) but why as a flash image etc don't know?? not sure I'd recognise a good/bad reason if I saw it though to be fair - I think the secret may have been in the code??? or perhaps the classic developer-syndrome "we've got this thing we'd like to do/play with/learn about, why don't we use that" a bit like D&S's barcode reader.

What made it look really horrible ignoring the grey lines was that the example he showed didn't have any e-journals assigned to it, so instead you just got 6 blank lines where the links could have been....

Brian - I hope you are appreciating the effort I'm putting in to familiarise myself with your homestate...I am a little alarmed by your post though - am I mistaken or are you making a develoke (developer joke)?? This might "entitle" you to some sort of special closet-developer prize.

Brian said...

I think you might know NC better than me by the end.

It was a developer's joke, or an ex-developer's joke at least.