The www.edubuzz.org home page has been given a new look to make it easier for people to explore the site.
There are still some loose ends to tidy up, but in keeping with the “release early, release often” philosophy, it’s time to give it a try and start listening to the feedback.
This version builds on the feedback from the last prototype. That showed that providing some pointers to help visitors start exploring was well received. That version, though, was built during the summer break but proved too complex to be sustainable under the pressures of term-time workloads.
The new version is simpler, but provides more information. It’s completely blog-based, with no bespoke code other than a customised WordPress theme, modified using standard template tags. That means maintenance can be shared, so volunteers are welcome to contribute.
Current features include:
There’s still more work to do, such as:
- lists of project blogs
- lists of support department blogs
We’ve now implemented WPMU’s cache system on the eduBuzz blogs, which is helping take some load off the server, and improving performance. It does this by caching some information on disk, reducing the need for database calls.
This became a priority because last week the server began to struggle on a couple of occasions around the 2pm demand peak.
Just out of curiosity, I’ve been looking to see how many edubuzz pages have been archived by theinternet archive at http://archive.org. The question was spurred by Fearn Wood asking how long her Stobhill book blog would be around.
It was interesting to see that already our P3 bloggers from last year have a place in internet history, such as this blog from James.
Original blog: https://www.edubuzz.org/hip3-3jame
Internet archive copy: http://web.archive.org/web/20070516110824/https://www.edubuzz.org/hip3-3james/
It’s encouraging to see this being picked up so quickly, and good to know that this extra backup exists.
An order is now being processed for an upgrade to the edubuzz server. This will mainly provide :
- more disk space, mainly needed for storage of uploaded files such as images, audio and video
- more memory capacity, to handle increasing numbers of users
Disk space on the current server is being used up at an ever-increasing rate.
There’s an ongoing education job to be done in reminding people not to upload huge, high-resolution image files just to illustrate blog posts. This is all part of the process of learning about using the web in the classroom, though, and perhaps to be expected at this stage.
It’s not unusual to find image files of 2MB embedded in blog posts, even though these will take over 5 minutes to load on a typical dial-up connection. This is something we maybe should have spent time on in training sessions, where we’ve tried to concentrate on using the tools, and have probably tended to avoid discussion of file size issues. We’re not alone, though: it’s clear from discussion forums that other WordPress sites have the same problem.
If you’re reading this and wondering how to avoid the problem, our advice is to avoid creating a big image in the first place. You can do this by setting your camera to take a low-resolution image. For class web use, a JPEG (.jpg) image file will usually be around 20KB to 50KB, depending on what it contains. About 400 to 500 pixels wide is adequate.
If you’ve already taken a large image, web sites like www.resize2mail.com offer a free, easy-to-use resizing service. You just browse to the image on your computer, upload it, choose the size you want, and download the resized file.