New website for St Mary’s College

School of Divinity website

When I was a student at St Mary’s College (1989-1992), the Faculty of Divinity at the University of St Andrews, there was no such thing as the World Wide Web. So it feels a little surreal that I helped design, build and launch the website for my alma mater.

So it was that this evening, shortly after 5:00 pm, I published the new website for the University of St Andrews’ St Mary’s College, The School of Divinity.

Anticlimax

I always feel a certain anticlimax when a site goes live. You work on the site for months (this project began in July 2007), looking at it, checking it and tweaking it day in, day out for weeks, or over a couple of months in some cases, and then all of a sudden it’s live: open for public viewing, and comment.

It’s not like a book launch. There’s no launch party. No celebratory crowd. Just me alone in my office once everyone else has gone home, deleting a symbolic link here, and pressing a button to start the publish there. Then checking it all, making a few changes and republishing … and that’s it.

Next

There are still a few bits and pieces needing done (a few 360° photos, and some Camtasia video screencasts introducing prospective distance learning students to our VLE: Virtual Learning Environment, an OpenSearch description document, and some general tidying up and optimizations of the code).

Then it’s on to the next project, which for me is to create some Camtasia screencasts of my own to explain the website layout to new students.

Microsoft and Nokia adopt jQuery

Exiting news on the jQuery blog yesterday:

Both Microsoft and Nokia are taking the major step of adopting jQuery as part of their official application development platform. Not only will they be using it for their corporate development but they will be providing it as a core piece of their platform for developers to build with.

Great news! I really like the jQuery JavaScript library.  I can do things with jQuery in 5 minutes that would ordinarily take me weeks. So far it must have saved me weeks and weeks of development time.

DVD Return Fail

One of my favourite blogs at the moment is the Fail Blog. It contains user-submitted photos and videos of various fails. Basically places where someone has messed up: accidents, ill-placed signs, products in the wrong place, etc.

I’ve just submitted this image:

Nanny McPhee DVD returned in Hoboken Hollow wallet

It’s not hilarious, but it is a fail.

I’ve just had to send it back with a note saying “It wasnae me!”

English Fail Blog

I’ve only just discovered the English Fail Blog too, which highlights bad spelling and grammar. It’s really gude and fnny (sic).

Corsair Flash Voyager

Corsair Flash Voyager
Corsair Flash Voyager

For quite some time my USB drive of choice has been the Corsair Flash Voyager. Its solid rugged rubbery case keeps my data safe and it’s frighteningly fast when it comes to data transfer.  Their GT range is even faster

I started out with a 512MB model, before slowly moving up through the ranks of 1GB, 2GB, 4GB and now I have an 8GB model (7.48GB of usable space).

Right now I have 14,394 files on my 8GB drive, which equals about 6GB … maybe it’s time to upgrade to something bigger.

Amazon UK are now selling a 16GB model for £31.60, and the 16GB GT for £33.95.  That’s an absolute bargain by my standards.  The 32GB model is just over £70; there is even a 64MB model for £155.

Windows 7

Catching up with news on the CustomPC website and there’s an interesting article entitled: Microsoft strips email and photo apps from Windows 7.

Next version of Windows will come without the clutter of extra software as standard, although you’ll be able to download equivalent software from Windows Live.

Market share

Hmm … that seems like a brave move. I was reading in an article in (I think) this month’s PC Plus magazine that Windows’ market share has been declining over the last few years, mostly to both Linux and Mac. The latter helped along by the “Hi! I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” adverts, and … well, the unpopularity of Windows Vista.

It just works!

Mac has the tagline: “It just works!”  Perhaps Windows should have: “Never a dull moment!”

But one of the things that I’ve heard from converted Mac users is how great it is to plug in a new Mac and just get on with things: email, photos, videos, surfing the Web, office tasks.

And yet Microsoft are moving away from this?

To do these sort of tasks Windows XP came with:

  • Outlook Express
  • Paint
  • Windows Movie Maker
  • Internet Explorer
  • WordPad

(Why no calendar application?!)

From what I’ve heard, not really in the same league as the built-in software in Mac OS X Leopard, for example; perhaps with the exception of Movie Maker, which is a decent piece of basic movie-making software.

My verdict

Personally, at the moment, I’m not convinced that this is the right way to go.  It just seems to me to making things harder, not easier, for new or inexperienced PC users to just get on and do stuff with their new PCs, without first having to download and install a bunch of applications from Windows Live.

I could, of course, be completely wrong and we’ll discover that the user-interface for this is wonderfully simple and intuitive to use … I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.