Blackboard: Spoke too soon?

Alfred Essa posted this tidbit today: An Important Correction to the Blackboard Patent Story A number of us, including this blog, have gotten this story wrong. It’s time for a correction. The USPTO has NOT invalidated the Blackboard patent. Instead the USPTO is proposing to invalidate the patent and has issued some preliminary documents for review and comment. At the end of the day the USPTO still might uphold the patent as valid. Let’s hope this is just a matter of semantics, and that the USPTO will continue along their current path towards invalidating Blackboard’s patents. *fingers crossed*!

Bye-bye 2007

For 2008, I resolve to be more resolute when working on my resolutions. And for once I don’t mean screen or print resolution! I mean actively working towards achieving one of my MANY professional and hobbyist goals. 2007 was a great year… I had quite a few happy moments, including getting married and building my own video game arcade cabinet from scratch (my brother has visited our house more in the last two months than he did all of last year!). Good times. I enjoyed 2007 in a professional sense, too: I renovated my website, contributed to a bunch of …

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Tip: Quick and efficient screenshots without special software

I’ve noticed many people use programs like TechSmith SnagIt to get screenshots. While SnagIt is a fine program, I think in many cases it’s overkill. Here’s a really simple way to get screenshots without needing any special software. Grab screenshot using Print Screen. Paste screenshot into Paint. Save in your preferred format (TIF, BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, etc.). Note: Apple Macintoshes come with the utility “Grab”, which is pretty nice and easy to use. Print Screen In the old days, pressing the keyboard key “Print Screen” literally meant “make a printout of screen.” Nowadays, it means “take a snapshot of …

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A Tale of Two (or more) Computers

A computer is born, and another computer dies (“I’m not quite dead!” he says in his best Eric Idle imitation).

(Mac) Hi, I’m a Mac.
(PC) And I’m a PC.

Assistive computer technology and web accessibility

Just thought I’d pass this link on: (short write-up here — thanks to Roger Johansson for the link.)

These are video profiles of people with disabilities — mild to severe — who use assistive computer technology to improve their lives. Some people use the computers to simply help them with their jobs (such as a blind person who is a professional French-to-English translator), while others use their computers as a lifeline to the rest of the world.
Armed with a basic understanding of accessibility, and with a little planning, a web developer can create courses and/or websites that contain rich content — even Flash movies and videos — while supporting a majority of assistive computer/alternative web browsing technologies.

Coming along now…

Still working on the site. It seems to be shaping up well. For the curious, I’m using a hybrid WordPress and static XHTML site architecture. Basically my site root ( is static XHTML, and my journal section ( is a WordPress installation. This makes it tricky to maintain consistency between my custom WordPress template and my Dreamweaver template (yes, I use Dreamweaver, although I wind up coding most of my pages by hand). It’s a bit of a pain, but I really didn’t want to work in a pure WordPress and PHP environment. I only intend to use PHP for …

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So here it is, the new site.

Only took about a year to get off my duff and do it! The new, re-dedicated will focus specifically on the technological aspects of e-learning and online courses, as well as the design/scripting/programming of general-purpose web pages. I can’t make any guarantees that I’ll be consistent in my blogging, but I know I’m always learning new tricks, and hope to share them with you from time to time in the “tutorials” section. I’ll also be posting my latest experiments (“web 2.0” widgets, CSS, javascript tests, etc.) in the “lab” section. If you’d like something to read right away, I’ve …

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Classes and OOP in Flash

Being the non-programmer that I am, I was recently scouring the WWW in search of good examples and tutorials on using class files in Flash. I have read that class files and object-oriented programming (OOP) are generally considered a ‘best practice’ in the programming world, and wanted a better understanding of their principles and how they can be used in Flash’s Actionscript 2.0. While I’ve read plenty of posts by people complaining that OOP is overrated, I have yet to read a convincing reason NOT to use it. It’s a clean approach, it promotes re-usability, and generally forces the developer …

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Flash and XML

Macromedia Flash is a great tool for presenting content. XML is a great format for storing content. Unfortunately, getting the two to play together nicely can be trickier than expected. I’ve spent countless hours over the last month reading up on XML and Flash integration, including trying no less than eight different methods of importing XML data to a Flash movie. It’s been kind of tough sorting through all these different methods and somewhat flimsy documentation. But I’m here to tell you the good news: I stumbled upon a wonderful and extremely in-depth tutorial that explains many of the mysteries …

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