Mantis Spam Accounts?

We've been running a copy of Mantis here in the Teaching & Learning Centre to track bugs and issues in our projects for a couple of years now. And over the last few months, there have been a couple of accounts created per day in an attempt to proliferate spam. They create an account, with the URL pointing somewhere spamworthy, and then never post any content.

Does anyone know why someone would try to target spam at Mantis? I can't see how that would gain them Google juice, so I'm boggled that someone's taken the time to tweak a bot to hit Mantis. 

I'll occasionally go in and prune out these orphaned accounts, and make sure they haven't lefk any content, but so far it's been a strange but harmless(?) exercise. 

Twittering

Until last week, I hadn't heard of Twitter. Then Cole blogged about it, and the ETSTalk Podcast folks talked about it. They're looking at Twitter as a tool to facilitate shared awareness of organizational activities.

Twitter is essentially nanoblogging (I just made that word up) – stuff that is more of a quick "I'm doing this right now" kind of status update rather than a blog post. You create a set of "friends" and get to see updates in almost realtime of what they're up to. Right now.

Cole's investigating this from the perspective of "how would a tool like this affect teaching and learning, and running an organization" I'm not doing anything quite so lofty, I'm just playing.

What's kind of cool is that it makes it easy for me to track what I'm doing, so when it's time to do the Dreaded Procrastinated Timesheet Entry mere hours before the payroll cutoff, I could just spider the list of archived updates.

I'm not sure if there's any value in Twitter per se. Other tools have been doing this, from full-on blogs to tools like Facebook and MySpace. Do we really need a separate tool for this? Maybe it's a good thing because it's so tightly focussed…

The design of Twitter might be a bit overly simplified though. There's no way to define the audience for an update, although you can set a global flag that affects all of your updates. It'd be handy to have a private/friends/public distinction, so I could track stuff that nobody cares about, only my Friends, or everyone else. Also, the ability to tag updates, either as categories/keywords, or even with contexts ala GTD, would be handy, along with an interface to filter by tags (show me all things done @Work wih the tag "drupal" in the last 2 weeks) 

The Twitter website needs some serious love, too. The UI is painful (tiny icons for "friends" and the only way to get a name is to rollover and wait for the tooltip. ick. etc…) and it's often really…. slow….. but it's usable with the addon tools like Twitterific.

Regardless, I'm dnorman on twitter. Like that's the first time I've been called a twit. 

Workshop Ideas for 2007

In a recent project meeting, we were tossing around ideas for workshops to conduct in 2007, and I've taken on a series of topics that could be loosely described as "new tools and strategies". Here's the current short list of workshops I'm planning to develop (and later conduct) through the TLC. Any glaring omissions?

  • Creative Commons (copyright and IP in general, and how they affect sharing and reusing available work)
  • Flickr. As a source of Creative Commons images for use, and as a potential tool for teaching and learning.
  • Google Earth. Basic overview, as well as an intro to some of the cool add-ons (geology, politics, etc…)
  • eXe – eLearning XML editor (for ePortfolios or personal websites)
  • WordPress.com (setting up a blog for free in seconds)
  • weblogs.ucalgary.ca (participating in the blog community on campus)
  • Drupal for websites and communities
  • Moodle (? this might be counterproductive, given Bb's role on our campus…)
  • Social bookmarking (del.icio.us for distributed tagging of resources)
  • Google Docs

I've left off a couple of items on purpose because I want to be doing things that aren't already running in full hype mode (podcasting and secondlife are fine on their own). I'm hoping to be showing stuff that might be flying under the radar (at least to most faculty on campus – many of the items on my list are completely taken for granted by tech types)

Google Earth Geology Screencast

I promised to do a quick screencast showing what we demoed to one of our Geology profs for using Google Earth to help teach geology (specifically, plate tectonics). Here's a really quick runthrough, using some of the awesome Google Earth add-on layers provided by the San Diego State University College of Sciences.

I should warn, though, that since I am not a geologist (I don't even play one on TV) and since it's first thing in the morning, I do get some stuff mixed up. Just cringe, push through it, and look at the bigger picture – an interactive 3D geology simulation powered by Google Earth and freely available information.

The video is available in small H.264 format,which will work fine in iTunes and on iPods. It's also available in original large H.264 format and MPEG4.