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Chipping Away at the openMLX

I actually managed to grab a few hourts the last few days to focus on the openMLX, the supposed open source version of our Maricopa Learning eXchange.

We have a “de-Maricopized” version running (this does not have the latest changes), but I am doing the new developments on another copy of the MLX. This works well, as once I can bang them on the R&D version, I just merely copy the updated .php and assorted files to the other versions. All of the customization is carried in an external configuration file.

There is some deadline pressure mounting, as I hope to have a copy of it running in Auckland for my November visit to new Zealand (check out the inverted CDB!) as well as another grant funded project group in our building that has some good needs for their own MLX.

Today’s work was re-routing the method for generating the MLX Feeds. On the Maricopa server, I am running cron scripts that generate updated static feed files on a regular basis. I had been using the RSSWriter code for generating RSS files on the fly. But I did not want to make the openMLX hinge on cron. I just implemented today a different strategy using FeedCreator.class.php code as it is capable of writing the files instead of only returning the XML directly. It also has a built in cache logic, to save hits on the database. The code looks ok, but the documentation is rather sparse (as will mine for the openMLX ;-)

Once the feeds are in place, we have most of the pieces functional. Next week I want to deconstruct the kludgy tables based HTML layout for the public pages, and move it to complete web standards CSS so others can more easily do customization. The inner part of the MLX, the loading dock” will likely remain in tables for now (I cannot see a pressing need to change the layouts here) as might the packing slip layout.

This needs to mostly happen next week, and then I can whip up some documentation, build the sourceforge site, and perhaps let it out. It’s all a bit scary.

The spam is still coming into the MLX comments, but my fixes so far are working good. The notifications sent to MLX package owners now provide one click links to either hide a comment (toggle a database flag so it is not inserted to the packing slip) or to delete it completely. There have been 87 documented spammers stuck in my trap just in the last 4 days, and they are trying a range of new IPs, more than 25 are already in my Blacklist. Too bad they do not realize that spoofing IPs will not get around my wall.

Also, sniffing in the database, I found 3 that were chugged into our “Shareback” form ( a web form that allows people to entering information that is the same as a TrackBack auto generated by weblog postings). There is now some new code the plug that hole as well.

This all is happening in the background of keeping our web site current, build new event sites and registration forms, create a new database calendar editing tool, build a site for a theater festival with online registration and class selection, make sure our online learning grants is ready for business in November, modify the online faculty professional growth summer project applications for deployment in January, help guide and develop events for Ocotillo, stay up to date with the FightSpamClub, keep up with all the other blogs I read, prepare for 3 weeks of workshops in New Zealand…. oh and get a pre-conference workshop ready for EDUCAUSE on Oct 19. Oh, and a faculty group wants a new web discussion board. And Apple wants to schedule a demo here (as does Macromedia).

Sigh. So much fun.

I mean that. To gear up for the crunch next week, I’m off tomorrow night to our cabin for a 3 day siesta. Get out of the office and chop some wood or scale some peaks. Or sit around and watch DVDs.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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