because nothing is easy

We learned today that the deadline for final grades here at University of Kentucky is now midnight on Monday, May 5 (rather than 4pm that day). As a result, the Blackboard server downtime for the upgrade to Bb 8.0 also will be postponed. The Blackboard servers’ unavailability has been shifted to 12:15am on Tuesday, May 6, with return to service by 8am (if not before) on May 6. Except for this detail, the rest of the information in my previous post still holds true. Do back up your gradebook if you have a class running through this upgrade (beginning before May 5 and continuing past May 6).


Bb changes

This corrects a previous post, which I have deleted. The change is in the last bulleted item.

Changes are a-comin’ for University of Kentucky Blackboard next week, and here’s what you need to know if you are a faculty member or an instructor:

  • The upgrade is to Bb 8.0, which University of Kentucky contributed significantly to in development and testing. UK’s own Nick McClure presents at Bb World in July.
  • UKIT plans this upgrade so that we can take advantage of improved Bb reliability and performance.
  • The most noticeable change will be in the Grade Center (which replaces the previous gradebook).
  • The change will happen between May 5 and May 6.  Servers will go down at 6pm on May 5 (two hours after spring semester grades are due) so that UKIT can perform the upgrade; servers will be back up by 2am May 6.
  • Preview the change with the Getting Started guide.
  • More help can be found here. Also, dont’ forget about the 24/7 support page, where you can find a phone number (at the top of the page), engage in real-time chat, or submit a ticket.
  • If you will be teaching a course that begins before and continues after the upgrade, I strongly urge you to download your gradebook as a backup before the upgrade takes place. Here’s how: 1.) Open your gradebook via the Control Panel. Click the Download button at the top and Submit. 2.) On the next screen, click the Download button to save the file to your hard drive.


brittanica online for bloggers

Encyclopaedia Brittanica offers online subscriptions, now including a freebie for approved bloggers (Brittanica‘s approval process, I mean). Here’s a Chronicle article with details. As print publications find a way onto the web, here’s one that offers itself as a resource while (I’m guessing) battling the use of Wikipedia. Bloggers can link to articles that normally would be available only through subscription services. I don’t dismiss Wikipedia as a source, but, frankly, it’s nice to have another source, especially one with such heft. Yes, I’m now an approved blogger. Cheers, Brittanica.

steampunk ‘puter

Okay, wow. It’s a Steampunk Victorian Computer. Seriously, ya’ll. Look. The Steampunk Workshop site has photos and video detailing the making of this masterpiece. (I had flashbacks to This Old House when I watched the video of him using the table saw on his 24-inch LCD. Uh-huh, you read that right. Even more reason to “measure twice, cut once.”) Wouldn’t this look great on your desk? Photo below used with permission. (Thanks Jake!)

Steampunk Victorian Computer 

converting your tube

Here’s an article of interest if you are thinking about purchasing a digital converter for your analog television: Digital Converters Keep the Old Tube TV Usable. It discusses a couple of brands and what happens to your picture when you use the converter. If you need help understanding the change from analog to digital in the wonderful world of TV, see this previous blog entry: Your Digital Future. Thanks to Mike Weikel, our TV Technical Services Chief, for pointing me to the digital converter article!

flat world: free textbooks

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports this morning that Flat World Knowledge will, beginning next year, “offer online, peer-reviewed, interactive, user-editable textbooks, free of charge.” Read the article by clicking here. Great news for students, whose textbook costs are inching up toward the $1000-mark, according to the article. Of course, this is an opportunity to truly integrate audio and video into textbooks (rather than simply including a CD with a traditional textbook). What’s the difference between this offering and previous digital or free digital textbooks? Flat World is a digital publisher, whereas others represent small sections of traditional publishers. Can Flat World survive by offering free digital textbooks? Stay tuned … .

mixed media

The Kentucky Kernel now has a site featuring “mixed media” – slideshows and video. Check out Kernel Mixed Media at You can add your own videos at the related Facebook page.