Tuesday, September 23, 2008


One of the things I do in my spare time is the maintenance of a few websites such as www.tsdekker.nl. In a technical sense it's a rather straightforward site, basically some .css, .js and a bunch of .html files, that can be easily adapted by using e.g. FrontPage. Up until a few years ago I used WS FTP for uploading new files to the server, a rather straightforward easy to use FTP application. Nothing fancy, but quite reliable. After that I moved to SmartFTP. The nice thing about SmartFTP is the functionality to open different FTP servers at the same time. You can switch between them just by clicking on tabs. It was not a big problem to use SmartFTP for free, as an educational license. However, at certain moments it was necessary to do a re-install the program. Not a big problem you might say, but the removal of a previous version was never 100% complete as some entries remain in your Start menu. Recently SmartFTP launched their 3.0 version of the program, but also introduced license restrictions. After 10 years they are no longer able to provide SmartFTP as a free service. I managed to download a trial version, which would expire in 1 day... Well, 1 day is enough to make the most urgent uploads to the website, but it became very clear that I should look for an alternative. I already heard about FireFTP, a free FTP add-on to your Mozilla Firefox browser. It's a relatively small add-on and promises to give you easy and intuitive access to your FTP server. What I like about it is (1) that it loads very quickly and (2) it simply opens another tab in your active Firefox browser. Compared to SmartFTP, which is a separate application, loading FireFTP saves you a lot of time. In one half of the screen you can see the contents of your local computer, in the other half the contents of your FTP server. Just as in SmartFTP it's very easy to select the files you need to upload. After uploading your files, simply switch to another tab to see the result on your live website. So far it works great: it does all the things I expect it to do.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Making the next step

As mentioned in one of my previous posts my career is moving ahead to the next step: senior consultant e-learning at Stoas Learning in Wageningen (NL). September will be a sort of transfer period in which I start working for Stoas, but I also have to finish some work at the University of Twente. The main issue that has to be worked on in Twente is the writing of an implementation plan for Blackboard. As you may have read elsewhere (www.utwente.nl/elo) the university has decided to choose for Blackboard as their next VLE. This means that TeleTOP will be phased out in the next couple of years. The writing of an implementation plan is not as easy as it seems. It's not only setting up the infrastructure, but also a support organisation and the training of end users. Moreover, it's an interesting issue for the University of Twente to collaborate closely with the colleagues from the Technical University of Delft. They already have a lot of experience with Blackboard in their organisation and are also actively involved in the Bb user group in the Netherlands. The collaboration with Delft is also interesting from the perspective of integrating Blackboard with OSIRIS, the new student information system for both universities. Well, the challenge is to deliver a 1.0 version of the implementation plan by the end of september. In the meantime I started working for Stoas. At first for two days a week, but it will build up rather quickly towards the end of september. Obviously a lot of impressions and meeting new colleagues. It felt great so far, and as I understand there won't be a big problem in finding challenges that need to be worked on at Stoas..;-) I'll keep you posted.