Pleasant Surprise


As I've mentioned here before, I have traditionally had my students keep a written lab notebook of all the actions they take as they set up and administer their machines.  This year, I'd like to have them keep their notebooks online in a blog.  That enables me to keep up with what their writing in an aggregator rather than everyone passing bulky written notebooks around. 

I've got a few options:

  1. Have the students use Radio.  Pros: its easy Cons: it costs money and they won't necessarily have there own windows box to run it on (the lab machines will be running Linux).
  2. Have the students install something on their lab machine like Slash or Monoraul Jerk.  Pros: they control it and its free.  Cons: they won't be sophisticated enough for these installations until a month into the class (although its a great exercise).
  3. Use the Slashcode Journal system that I already have running on the class site.  Pros: its easy.  Cons: no possibility for multiple channels or RSS.

Turns out that the pleasant surprise is that the Slash journal system does do RSS.  I was thinking, "OK, I could modify journal.pl to output RSS."  There's already a "op=display" parameter.  Lo and behold, if you change the "display" to "rss" you get RSS.  Pretty cool. 

I will need to modify journal.pl a little.  It doesn't put the journal writers name in the title, but in the description field which many aggregators doesn't display.   Having 40-50 sites show up in my aggregator all labeled "CS462, Enterprise Computing Journals" wouldn't work.    [Update: I made the change easily in just a few minutes.]