Annotation & Mandarin

I’ve been busy lately working on web annotation. I have produced a patch to add annotation to Moodle, and a stand-alone version suitable for integration into other web applications. Most recently, I’ve added a screencast of the system in action. I’ve also uploaded a simple Mandarin quiz web application which I use to teach myself Mandarin Chinese vocabulary. Feel free to try it.


Colour PageRank Icons

I recently installed the PageRank extension for Firefox, which shows a gas-gauge style Google page rank indicator for the current web page. I was slightly amazed at Google’s original icons. They are desperately in need of colour and difficult to read. Similar ranks are nearly impossible to differentiate without hovering over the gauge with the mouse. So I came up with my own icons, which you are welcome to download. Here’s an example:


The colours were a problem. The human mind isn’t terribly good at distinguishing between more than seven, so a rainbow isn’t very effective. Instead, I took advantage of the fact that page ranks seem (to me anyway) to fall into three natural categories. I would tweak them some more, but the exercise is a little silly anyway.


Now this is not an endorsement of PageRank. From what I can tell, the score doesn’t have as much to do with reality as it once did, and reports are that Google treats it accordingly. But it is kind of fun bouncing around my pages to see what magical number Google assigned last time it ripped through my site.


Ant Tasks

I apologize for the primitive site – I’ve been focusing on infrastructure. I write my blog articles in, then export them and use an XSLT stylesheet to convert them HTML. The process is automated using Apache Ant and a collection of XSLT stylesheets I have written. I’ve also implemented a few Ant tasks for processing XML documents. I just added a page to the site with a description of how this works and a zip file with the source code.