Bill Flores Holds Double Digit Lead Over Chet Edwards

A poll conducted by the Penn Schoen Berland firm for The Hill newspaper out of Washington shows Republican Bill Flores holds a 12-point lead over incumbent Democrat Chet Edwards in the race to represent the 17th District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Polls done for the publication show potentially huge gains for the Republican Party come next Tuesday’s election. Source: Poll: Flores Holds Double Digit Lead Over Edwards.

The two had a debate on October 25, that was published on Twitter by, a local news paper. They used the hashtag #tx17debate. Chet Edwards is on Twitter at @chetedwards. Bill Flores is on Twitter at @Flores4Congress.

With less than a week to go this doesn’t bode well for Edwards or other Democrats around the country. Even Democrats who voted for Obama might switch to elect Republican Representatives, thus putting the breaks on Obama’s run-away spending train. A lame-duck session – in his first term – has huge implications and looks really bad for President Obama, Democrats and the country. All the past 2 years have served to do is increase debt and taxes. The economy is in shambles, housing may not recovery, people can’t afford to get sick or injured, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

2010 Midterm Election in Central Texas

The midterm election is drawing near – one week to go – and the field of candidates has changed since I wrote about them in February. There is a new website done by the Texas Secretary of State,, that gives “simplified” information on the who, what, when, where, and how for this election. In particular it gives a list of candidates.

Aside from the facts, there sure is a lot of mud-slinging ads on TV for this election. I’ll be glad when November 2 is past.

Analyzing Real-Time Internal User Searches


Higher education websites always have a steady supply of visitors. It’s great to see the numbers in Google Analyics fluctuate each day and trend upwards over time, but are your visitors finding what they came for? This talk is a high-level-to-in-depth look at tracking what visitors are searching for in real time from your site. We’ll go beyond the consolidated “popular keywords” list to an actual trend list with grouped phases and pages. The goal is peer into the visitor’s mind and figure out why they are searching for “address” on the Contact Us page or “Professor Smith” on the Faculty Information page. Higher education websites always struggle to accommodate two audiences, internal and external. Search results based on location don’t lie, it’s easy to combine real internal searches with reasons why quicklinks and extra menus may or may not be functioning as optimally as they should. It’s time to go beyond pageviews and user paths and look at real-time search analytics.

Nick Denardis, Associate Director of Web Communications, Wayne State University


My Notes

Driving decisions with data
– Why does your university have a website: they come there for a purpose, a purpose they know
– He is with Wayne State: 11% use search, 25% external search
– They used Google Analytics, Crazy Egg, Woopra
— These only gave them half the picture

– Every visitor tells a story (summaries didn’t cut it)
– It starts with a fist impression

External vs. internal
10 sec test

– external scan get frusted, punt to search
– internal don’t have time to scan, punt to search

– they added a script to the search to db the search terms
— only put it on top two levels

– notalbe patterns
— they search for existing pages

– they categorized them into 5 categories

– then they made a auto search (jquery: auto suggest) on the search box – to skip the search results page
– they got 35% used the auto search

– they added a “quick link bar” below the centerpiece for move in week. they did heat map and showed that they got .1% clicks on the bar.

typical search experience

– they then started tweaking google custom search results page: give events, classes, faculty, building info related to the search term

– data driving decisions
— start collecting and watching

Got Centerpiece? So Does Everyone Else.


Higher ed has a problem with its websites. Many of us are past that first big hump of “The Millennial Redesign.” We’ve plopped down money on a shiny new CMS. Our design is hip and groovy. But an issue snuck in when we weren’t looking. Centerpieces have become a staple component of the ever important home page. The problem is that they have homogenized us. We’re all doing it, and we’re all doing it the same. This presentation will look at a number of sites and their centerpieces, look at common themes, address why our current trend is a problem, and make suggestions as to where we can go and what we can do to stand out and differentiate ourselves.

Michael Fienen, Director of Web Marketing, Pittsburg State University


My Notes

– in 2000 we were wild, do it
– in 2010 we have committees, brand guides, hurdles
– now we’re normalized: dilution
– jquery, 960gs, cms all dilute technology
– we are creating industry homogeny

Centerpieces have 3 things

– visual
– informational
– story tellers
– (caotic one)

– They lack something: they’re not actionable

– people dont click on them
– new roi: relying on insignificance
– but it takes effort to fix it
– but with analytics we can make a difference

– smsu centerpiece has calls to action

– you need to measure
– you need to set goals
– get rid of old conventions; need to inovate
– this requires new standards

– first impressions are important
– standout
– its not enough to keep up

See for design ideas

One Map To Rule Them All


What good is a map that you can zoom, click, stretch and interact with if you can’t take it with you? You know where the lecture hall is, but how do you get there on your bike? Let’s ask the visitor in the parking lot how cool your map is when they are trying to find the admissions office. Maps are now used everywhere and growing in popularity. Can your map keep up? This session explores how to use the new Google Maps V3 API to make all your map dreams come true — including the one where you’re the campus hero for the stellar new iPhone/Android application. One map that just works everywhere. Based on experiences with the Missouri State Map.

Chad Killingsworth, Missouri State University


My Notes

Users have low tollerence for out of date maps.

They want to interact, but they don’t want too much information.

Don’t reinvent the wheel: google maps is already there.

All your maps should match.

Customize the map with markers.

He uses Google maps api v3. It’s designed for mobile devices.

KML layers: xml doc to maintain cool maps: from Google Earth, polyicon tool, click the edges, copy paste to KML.

Maps need to be mobile.

Make it familiar to the user. Keep brand and extras small, and maximize the map.

Student workers can make KML – it’s tedious work.

Make hybrid application: make a basic app first, embed a browser, point the browser to the map.

– avoid extra javascript libraries
– compress your javascript
– use HTML5 local storage (cache-manifest)
– use google page speed (firefox add-on)

General Session with Steve Krug and Notes On “Don’t Make Me Think”

Keynote at HighEdWeb 2010

Steve Krug (pronounced “kroog”) is best known as the author of “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability,” now in its second edition with over 200,000 copies in print.

His new book, “Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems,” explains how everyone can-and should-be doing their own usability testing.

His books are based on 20 years of experience as a usability consultant for a wide variety of clients like Apple,,, NPR, the International Monetary Fund, and many others. His consulting firm, Advanced Common Sense (“just me and a few well-placed mirrors”) is based in Chestnut Hill, MA.

He currently spends most of his time teaching usability workshops, consulting, and watching old movies.


My Notes

The following are my thoughts on Steve Krug’s book, “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.” Steve was a keynote speaker at HighEdWeb 2010 and he touched on a few points in this book and his new book, “Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems.”
p. 16?
Referring to Krug’s 3rd law on p. 45., can we simplify too much? into the obscure? How do you know? or how do you find the balance?
p. 45 “Krug’s 3rd law of usability: get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.”
p. 22
I had a thought, how many people use CTRL+F to find something on a page?
“And the worst thing about the myth of the average user is that it reinforces the idea that good web design is largely a matter of figuring out what people like.”
“the average user doesn’t exist.”
“The problem is there are no simple “right” answers for most web design questions. What works is good, integrated design that fills a need – carefully thought out, well executed, and tested.”
So, how can Krug tell us what is good design or what is usable or what doesn’t make us think if there is now average “us” to base it off of? I know he’s done tons of usability studies, and watched lots of people, and found that “all web users are unique, and all web use is basically idiosyncratic. (p. 128)” How does he know that I want site id in the top left with a clever tag line?
p. 129
“The point is, it’s not productive to ask questions like “Do most people like pulldown menus?” The right question to ask is does this X create a good experience for most people. The only way to answer that question is with testing. You should watch ordinary people as they try to figure it out.

HTML 5 Design


Even though the specification is still being written, HTML5 can be implemented for your website today. In this workshop presented by Christopher Schmitt focused on real world solutions, attendees will learn about the new HTML elements and their semantics, HTML5 form elements, incorporate audio and video without Flash, new JavaScript API like geolocation, and more.

Christopher Schmitt


My Notes

– There is 91 HTML elements
– are awesome, but they have problem with screen readers

– Talk about difference from xhtml to html5
– building html5
– video
– audio
– geolocation

DOCTYPE changes

– quotes are optional
– case insensitive
– end / is optional

Page Structure
– Merge the div id like

Does HTML5 retain the block/in-line rules?

IE needs javascript to trick it.

IE9 supports HTML5

– Progressively modernize code

You can use java script modernizr.min.js

It can turn on features for browsers that support the feature (from CSS rules)

HTML5 audio
– only a few file formats are supported by a few

HTML5 video
– posterframe, very simple
– same issues as audio, few codecs few browsers
vlc media player

youtube beta html

– Captioning (use jquery)
jCaps jquery plugin

HTML5 Geolocation
– navigator.geolocation javascript
– or

Microformats Made Simple by Emily Lewis

How To Install Custom Ringtones on Samsung Galaxy S (T-Mobile Vibrant)

If you have a T-Mobile Vibrant you can add your own MP3 ringtones to your phone using these simple steps.

  1. Download your favorite MP3 to your desktop – like the “Droid” Squirrel.mp3 from the HighEdWeb 2010 website.
  2. Next, connect your phone to your desktop using the USB cable and select Media Player type connection.
  3. On your desktop you should get an Explorer window. Select “Open device to view files” and go to the Card directory.
  4. Create a sub-directory named “ringtones” if you don’t have one already.
  5. Drag and drop your MP3 file into the ringtones directory.
  6. On your phone, on the Settings > Sound and display > Voice call ringtone screen, select your MP3 filename and press OK.

That’s all.

Thanks to HighEdWeb 2010 for providing the best ringtone ever!

Be sure to check out @HighEdWeb and @ThisSquirrel on Twitter.

Mobile Applications for Higher Education


With the growing presence of smartphones, modern colleges have been presented with a powerful new platform to deliver specialized content to the campus community. From creating customizable study tools to concentrating the core functionality of a college website, mobile applications represent an opportunity to remain at the forefront of cutting edge technology while creating unique tools that are most useful outside of traditional computing environments. During this session, we’ll take a look at two of the mobile applications that NKU has developed for the iPhone/iPod Touch. During the first portion of this session, we’ll discuss the development of NKU’s flagship mobile app, iNKU. With the development of iNKU, we’ve consolidated some of the most useful content that our online presence has to offer, such as our campus directory and schedule of classes. We’ve also created tools which are new with iNKU, like our TANK bus schedule app and streaming radio. During the second portion of the session, we’ll talk about NKU’s flashcard application. Intended to encapsulate the same functionality as paper flashcards, this app is a promising digital version of the time-honored study tool. Users can download specialized ‘decks’ of study questions with which they may quiz themselves.

Thomas Barker, Northern Kentucky University and Curtis McCarney, Northern Kentucky University


My Notes

This is the NKU approach to mobile.

The iPhone, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile where the top 3 in early 2009

They chose iPhone.

They used modular app design.

They used student workers; many came from a iPhone course at the university.

They have 14 apps in all.

Students made one solely by themselves: flashcards.

iNKU is their flagship app.

It started as a native app (compared to mobile web app).

In march 2010 they added mobile web to it.

Released spring 2009.

They made their own map (Google was too old)

They have SAP portal for student information system.

They tied in more app features to SAP in successive versions.

They use Flurry to collect stats.

Next for them: social media, photo gallery, more SAP integration, virtual tours.

Authentication for at least 3 features. They use secure connection to LDAP.

They use a central services server for RSS and SAP features and other services.

They used the Cocoa Touch framework.