Although I can’t find the original post, it was Frank Chimero who gave me the naming inspiration for my weekly newsletter. If I remember correctly, he was apologising for the lack of updates, stating that he was working on his book, so everthing else was “just thought shrapnel“. I immediately registered the domain.
The logo I’ve been using for the past couple of years was by Bryan Mathers who asked me one day what he thought of something he’d drawn. It was based on my avatar at the time, in which I was wearing a cap. You can see it in action in a past issue. It’s served me well.
Bryan was the obvious person to turn to, therefore, when I decided to re-imagine Thought Shrapnel as not just a newsletter, but as something more like kottke.org, or Brain Pickings, or Farnam Street. These are more than just blogs or newsletters — they’re a bit of both, an intentional curation by someone who wears their view of the world on their sleeve.
Just check out the logo that Bryan came up with! It’s inspired by the work of Roy Lichenstein:
A few months ago I started a Telegram channel where I’d share directly links I’d just come across. Some of these made it into the newsletter, some didn’t, and I’d add a bit of commentary and emoji. However, as someone committed to the open web and the POSSE model, I was a little bit uncomfortable about continuing this into the new year.
Enter Thought Shrapnel Live! This is a new blog where I share in a more structured and web-friendly way what I would have previously sent directly to the Telegram channel. You can still subscribe via that method, as well as by RSS, web notifications, and the weekly newsletter, but the content is available on the open web.
I’d like to thank my supporters who keep Thought Shrapnel going. The newly-redesigned version of the newsletter goes out on Sunday, and I’m delighted to be able to offer both new and existing supporters laptop stickers that demonstrate their support. Look out for an email about that next week if you’re on the list.
I wrote my own HTML and CSS for dougbelshaw.com back when I was at Mozilla. It was originally a template to be used with Thimble, and a few people ‘forked’ it to use it for their own site.
So, on the train on the way back from Dundee today, I thought I’d do something about it. I knew that I wanted something pretty simple and minimalist, yet with just enough to ‘delight’ visitors. It needed to serve static files, not rely on a database back end (as with WordPress).
I also wanted to link to something I’ve been tinkering around with that allows me to surface my most recent writing. I’d already put that together at dougbelshaw.com/feeds in response to people complaining that they miss my stuff because I post it in different places around the web.
Eventually, I want to be a governor of my son’s school, but as a first step I’ve joined the Parent Teacher Association. Not quite the short-and-to-the-point meetings I’m used to, but enjoyable nonetheless. I’m not around for the disco that’s being organized, unfortunately, as I’ll be at Interesting North. Oh well.
Wrestling with my mobile review
As I’ve mentioned several times before in my weeknotes, I’m composing a mobile and wireless technologies review for the JISC e-Learning strand. This week I’ve begun trying to synthesize some of what I’ve collated.
Imagine a penny tossed into a paddling pool. That will give you some idea of the difference in scale between my proposal and what I’ll end up delivering. It’s. Just. So. Interesting… :-p
After declaring (rather triumphantly) that, despite two sets of visitors and the rest of my family coming down with a sickness bug, I had managed to soldier on, unaffected – guess what happened? Yep, I had to take Monday and Tuesday off due to a sickness bug. Still, it meant that from my sickbed I managed to set about…
Redesigning this site
This redesign been a long time in coming and, I’m glad to say, it’s been well-received. Further details here.
Those who follow me on Twitter will have seen that I’m currently redesigning this blog. More on the theory and practice behind that to come, but I wonder if I could ask for 5 seconds of your time?
The first few seconds of visiting a website are crucial for visitors gaining an impression of its content and author. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to gain insights into what visitors think during that period.
Until now, that is.
Using a tool called Clue I’m able to take a snapshot of the new site and submit it for your consideration. The following link is available until midday on Wednesday 13th October 2010 – I’ll share the results. Take a look!
I thought that I kept myself fairly anonymous online to all but the people I want to interact with. Turns out I was wrong. Check out Panopticlick to start being worried about ‘browser fingerprinting’.
Vooks look either cool or completely pointless, depending on your point-of-view and mood. (via @betchaboy)
Dunbar’s Number is the theoretical maximum number of stable relationships an individual can sustain. It turns out that it’s about 150, which makes some people’s Twitter and Facebook profiles look ridiculous!
After some pressure from @mwclarkson, Prezi have announced their Edu Pro and Edu Enjoy licenses for use in the classroom. Now students can abuse Web 2.0 in the same way that they abuse Powerpoint… 😉
You can now upload email into a Google Apps email account using an (official) OSX app. This might be a good time for me to switch to an @dougbelshaw.com email address… 🙂
That button in Tweetie that I’ve never pressed (see below – looks like a business card)? Turns out it adds contact details from someone’s contact details from Twitter to your iPhone address book. Sweet!
Air Show is a free iPhone app that lets you stream your camera roll over wifi to any UPnP-enabled device (e.g. Xbox 360, PS3)
Need a non-linear video editor (like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker) for Linux? Try OpenShot!
I found the idea of ‘firing’ your community every so often fascinating. I’ve unfollowed everyone on Twitter and unsubscribed from all blogs before and started again. Perhaps time to do so a second time?
I was shocked to discover that some UK Local Authorities are going to pay £10,000 on a filter to remove comments from being displayed when students visit YouTube. Kerry Turner (@4goggas) who gave the heads-up also pointed out youtube.com/xl which I hadn’t used before. Handy!
JISC published their final report into ebooks as (appropriately) a rather nice issuu document. Worth looking at the Executive Summary if nothing else!
Futurelab has a really well put-together video about the future of education using the research from Beyond Current Horizons (from Beyond Current Horizons research) Apparently, half the population of Europe will be 50 by 2030 and will expect to live another 40 years (I’ll be 50 in December 2030 – scary!)
I’m rather pleased with the sparkline (mini-graph) I added to the footer of this blog. There’s a kind-of howto here, but I’ll be screencasting how to do this next week. In the course of doing this I was reminded about the Google Charts API. Lots of services provide a front-end for Google Charts, but this tool in particular makes it very quick and easy to make stunning charts!
There’s a guy who records everything he does. He creates wonderful and interesting visualizations in his annual report. Check it out! (try Daytum or your.flowingdata.com if you’re crazy enough to do likewise!)
Apparently, just thinking about time makes your body sway – forwards if you’re thinking about the future, backwards if you’re thinking about the past. That’s worth an experiment Chez Belshaw, methinks… 😉
Update (same day!) – well that didn’t last long: I’ve stripped it back even more with the Minimalist theme. :-p
Earlier this year I changed the theme on this site. I was reasonably pleased with it. It was faster-loading than the previous iteration. However, as I kept adding stuff to it the site became slower to load. As @MoodleDan pointed out, I had lots of images being loaded from external sites.
So I’ve stripped it down to look a bit like the default theme on Posterous. It’s a WordPress theme called Minimous. I like it, although I’ve got a plan to strip it down even further…
If you normally get content from dougbelshaw.com via the RSS feed or emails, you might want to stop by the actual site. I’ve given it a bit of a facelift:
Why did I do this? Well the reason I did it today is because I’ve been off work due to illness. I must have a bug or something as I feel rough. 🙁 The reason I decided to make it look the way it does is for the following reasons:
teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk had 3 columns and I found it helpful to be able to have two sidebars – more useful content near the top of the page!
It now features the avatar I use in most places online (a South Park character I created here)
My Twitter updates are now even more prominent. That’s significant as I spend a good deal of time interacting with people in my network. Now I just need a place to integrate the conversations, rather than just my side of them…
Please do feel free to give me some feedback on the redesign. I am aware, for instance, that it takes a while to load the page. Is that a big issue? :-s