WordPress says: 3GB free storage

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Higher Education, Recruitment | Posted on 22-01-2008-05-2008

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As if you actually need another reason to use WordPress (clean, great support/community, templates, etc etc etc), here it is:  WordPress is now offering 3gb of free storage, which is up from 50mb.    When will you make the transition?  Utilize this free tool for your school.  Obviously, if you are doing your own install you will have a ton of space, but this is a good solution for those whose schools don’t allow PHP installs (yes, that’s me).  We’ve paid for Community Server and will continue to use it, but I really wish I could have just gotten a .com and put my Bloggers on there.   Oh well, maybe next project.

A little iPhone fun for your site

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, iPhone, Technology, Web | Posted on 17-01-2008-05-2008

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Hey all you iPhone users – click this link and hit the + button on your phone, then ‘Add to Home Screen’. Look at that cute little Bulldog. :) .

It’s pretty simple. Just create a 57×57 pixel .png file. Name it apple-touch-icon.png and upload it to your directory. Done! The iPhone even puts the nifty opacity filter on the image for you. See original below. Enjoy!

Twitter bites the dust.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Technology, Twitter, Web | Posted on 15-01-2008-05-2008

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Just as I was settling in for yet another lunch at the desk, I started to get ready for the MacWorld Keynote speech. I go to open Twitter as 1 of 3 sites I’ll be refreshing, only to find it’s down. MHerzberger just told me Ustream.tv is down too.

So on one hand, we have 2 popular sites that are becoming information stations for everyone interested, on the other hand we have 2 websites who aren’t properly gauging their audience and its needs.

I don’t know whether to feel angry that I can’t get my info or excited that so many people are starting to utilize these sites.

Guess I’ll stick to HTML-refresh at Engadget for yet another year. Maybe next year, Web 2.0.

EDIT — Engadget is down as well now. Stay alive macrumorslive.com, you’re my only hope!!!!!

Open Source growing pains

Posted by Jesse | Posted in Technology | Posted on 15-01-2008-05-2008

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Leveraged correctly, open source applications can be an extremely positive and effective portion of your overall business processes.  The tricky part is finding balance, and being able to quickly determine the cost/benefit of the open source project.  For instance, you have an application on the cutting edge of technology.  It’s got amazing features, features you don’t necessarily need- but wow are they cool.  The back-end is sort of complicated and your programmer is having a hard time getting the technology down, but you being the big-picture sort of person can see the potential. 

Back up a second.  What other open-source technology are you using?  Is this another application that has a huge learning curve and will constantly need tweaking?  What benefits do you expect, or even hope to realize from this application?  Do you know anyone or have heard about anyone successfully implementing this application?  If so, have you spoken with them?

Yeah, I know…I’m starting to sound like the stuffy old admission administration, but in this case (and many others) the “old school” is on the right track.  Use caution when implementing many different open-source projects.  I’m not against open-source, it’s what drives the Information Technology industry to bigger and better things.  I am against putting all of your technology needs into open-source when you cannot guarantee the same level of support, documentation, and quality from application to application.  Now I realize you can’t exactly count on quality and consistency from non-open source applications, but you can usually count on a consistent support structure, consistent documentation, and a community of some sort to go to with questions.

How do I “Leverage open-source projects“?

-First of all, ask your programmer.  Have them take a look at the documentation, the technology behind the scenes, to get a preview of what they will be working with.  If they have reservations at that point, that should throw up red flags. 
-Call around, and see if you can track down people who have used the technology (heck- you’ll be increasing your network at the same time) and ask them about it.  Did they have any implementation issues, any support issues?  Ask if the return they’ve gotten from the project has been valuable.
-Use-ability testing is your friend.  You don’t need thousands of users testing to be successful.  Actually in this case 5-10 will do nicely.  Simply ask them what they think is important about your application.  Ask them if they think it is necessary, or if it’s “cool”.  If your goal is to get them to sign up for a forum, to interact with a community – ask them if they want to.  It’s all about the users, so make sure they actually want or like what you are adding.
-Very specifically lay out your expectations and goals for the application.  If you find you’re at a loss to define very many things (“because it’s cool” is probably not going to cut it) – again flags need to be thrown.

Open source is, and can be very cool.  Keeping your programmers sane, and free to work on high value projects is “way cooler“.  It’s your job to make those tough decisions – so make sure you find value to go with ”cool”.

Finally! Google Maps implemented

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Google, Higher Education, Technology, Usability, Web | Posted on 15-01-2008-05-2008

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We have a ‘unique campus’ at Butler, i.e. we are in the middle of a neighborhood and there is a lack of accomodations in the immediate area.  Visitors have a hard time conceptualizing where they need to go for hotels, restaurants, etc. I’ve been pushing for Google Maps API implementation for awhile, but to no avail.

With Scholar’s Forum coming quickly (where admitted students interview for scholarships, etc), we have been getting the page up for our admitted students who will be visiting.  Rather than continue to try to get the API implemented (we use a home-grown CMS that doesn’t exactly allow me to get into the code…), I went ahead and designed the Google Maps and just used their iframe embedding function.  After some tweaks to the code (Art figured out that a mere < 15 pixels was pushing the maps to the bottom of the page in IE6/7, but not Firefox), we are up and running.

This makes it easy for visitors to see where we are, where hotels and resturants are, and allows them to punch in their address for directions as well.  On the Hotel side of things, I added links to read reviews on each hotel, which I thought might be helpful.  I also included phone #’s to be on the safe side.  Since the information was already compiled, it was pretty easy to copy/paste most of the information over after I geotagged on the map.

Here’s the page:  Go.Butler.Edu < Scholars Forum < Accomodations.

You can use Google Maps for other things as well in your office.  For example, yesterday I had an admission counselor email me with a request to highlight Lake Road on this PDF map (just try finding it) so visiting counselors would know where to park for an upcoming conference.  Instead, I created another Google Map highlighting where they should park, where the building they are going to is, and a pinpoint that opens immediately giving them the option to plug in their address for directions.  Then I gave him a tinyurl for the email, and the request was done.

Tell me what you think! What are you using Google Maps for on your campus?

Interacting with students on their turf

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Technology, Web | Posted on 14-01-2008-05-2008

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Want an easy way to keep track of what your school’s ‘customers’ are saying about you? Check out Google Alerts, and monitor the Alerts as they come in. You can choose to get Alerts as they happen, or a comprehensive email at the end of each day. You can also get text or HTML emails. I have Alerts set up for “Butler University”, “Butler Bulldogs”, “Butler U.”, and “Butler Bloggers”.

Here’s a good example: I get an Alert of “Butler University” coming from a Livejournal. It goes like this:

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Book Reviews

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 10-01-2008-05-2008

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Over break I had the opportunity to sit right here for 6 days and do not much more than read books as the waves crashed into my feet. Serene. Here are the books I read, and here’s what I thought.

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The Viral Quadrants

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Web, YouTube | Posted on 10-01-2008-05-2008

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I’ve got a huge backlog of posts today, so sorry in advance.  Just a couple things I want to get out there for discussion.

Where does your latest idea fall? Is it in the upper right quadrant, or is it merely a Meatball Sundae? Your boss/VP/director might think that you must have that new shiny gadget, but as I have said before, you’re merely at the mercy of the end user, no matter how hard you try to shove it to them. :)

Are there any changes you think should be made to this graph? Anything missing?  What do you think about Ron Paul’s position on the chart?

Here come the Fall 08 kids…

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Technology, Web | Posted on 10-01-2008-05-2008

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Let me start this by being very blunt: I’m stressed. I haven’t really been stressed about many work related things before, as I can typically hit deadlines with ease. However, this situation caught me off guard yesterday around 4pm, so I’ve been thinking it over all night in my head.

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Free Advertising

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Marketing | Posted on 09-01-2008-05-2008

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At the Stamats conference there was quite a bit of talk about ‘free advertising’, and thinking outside the box to get your name out. I heard a great example today on my way to work.

I was listening to Jim Denny & Friends on WFMS, and Deborah was talking about some christmas stockings she dropped off at a business to have embroidered…. in 2005. The store was kind enough to call and remind her, 2 years later, that she needed to pick them up, so that was the whole punchline of the story. She had forgotten them for 2 years. However, I don’t remember them mentioning the store’s name, and that’s not the ‘free advertising’ that caught my attention.

What got me was 5 minutes or so later. They took a caller. It was Bill, from Osterman Jewelers. And he says: “Hey, this is Bill from Osterman Jewelers. Tell Deborah that I have a wedding band she dropped off for resizing about 20 years ago if she wants to come pick it up.” And everyone laughs hysterically. Sure, he didn’t have the band. But it was funny. And it got my attention. And then I started thinking that the people at Osterman must be pretty fun people and would be easy to deal with. After I was done thinking about all of that, I realized they had cut to commercial, and a Shane Co. commercial was wrapping up (a heavily advertised jeweler in town).

How much did Osterman pay? Not a penny. What do you think Shane Co. paid for a 30 second spot at 8:15am on the CMA Large Market Broadcast Personality of the Year award winning show? I’d say a couple diamond earrings or so.

Obviously you couldn’t call in and do this daily, but try to think outside of the box and grab on to opportunities like this when they arise for your school.