Form of an Awesome VHS Catalog Entry for The Shining

After yesterday’s Gravity Forms session led by Tom Woodward for Reclaim Edtech’s June Flex Course things started to click for me. I am starting to wrap my head around the basics of Gravity Forms. As mentioned in my last post on my Gravity Forms progress, I am building out a site for cataloging physical media. Yesterday’s session started with a Q&A which helped me understand some the necessary distinctions between standard fields in Gravity Forms versus advanced fields and post fields. Admittedly I’m slow, but it was not apparent to me which type of field to use when and why, and I’m glad I asked because I was missing a crucial piece of the puzzle. Namely that while the fields I’m using to collect data is part one of the process, part two is using the Advanced Post Creation add-on to translate and embed that data into a post. Simple enough, but that connection wasn’t happening until week 2 when it finally click for me. YEAH!

The remainder of this week’s session focused on how you can pull the data collected from the form into a post using Advanced Post Creation, which helped me understand when to translate data I collected into a post title vs. category vs. tag, etc. I spent much of today re-factoring my existing data collection approach, as well as adding more fields. I appreciated Alan offering advice in the comments of my last post, and I’m realizing that capturing the data in formats other than single text will be valuable for doing more with the data.

Screenshot of drop down field of Format of Movie media

Drop-down field of Format of Movie media

So, here’s where I am so far; I’ll try to be brief. After a few false-starts with creating categories using basic post fields to manage both the Film Genres and Media Type entries, I was reminded that any field I create in the form can be translated to a category or tag in the Advanced Post Creation tool, which loosened up my uptight thinking considerably. In fact, as a result I realized my Media Types were all wrong taxonomically. Rather than listing Book, VHS, DVD, Cassette, Magazine, Toy, etc. I need to go back a step and filter the media with more abstract types like Book, Movie, Magazine, Music, and Toy, and then start conditional logic for the movies based on that. So the next field is Media Format which included options for VHS, Betamax, DVD, Laserdisc, Selectavision, and Digital Copy (meaning those I have ripped, which may be a check box for the physical media moves?). Abstracting this made the conditional logic for all movie fields so much easier. I just say show these options for any Movies. Not sure I’m being clear here, so let’s take a look. I added the formats as a drop-down:

Screenshot of Drop-down of Format types for Movies

Drop-down field of Format types for Movies

And thanks to abstracting Media Type out from including formatting, as I did in my last post, I am able to have simply one entry for conditional logic, all Media that is Movies will see the Formats drop-down option. Golden!

Screenshot of Conditional Logic of Format field for movie media type

Conditional Logic of Format field for movie media type

That made adding additional fields like Language, Region, Aspect Ratio, Subtitles, Director, and Extras quite quick and easy:

Screenshot of the full form for entering data into the bavaLibrary for a movie

Full form for entering data into the bavaLibrary for a movie

I also included a Media Image field to upload a picture of the physical media, which is kind of cool. Once I had these fields I then turned to the Advanced Post Creator and pulled the fields into a WordPress post using the merge tool that allows you to select fields to pull in, like I can pull title and date into the Post Title, and then each of the other data points in, being sure to add some titles above each of the fields, kinda looking like this:

Screenshot of various elements of the Advanced Post Creator add-on for Gravity Forms

The Advanced Post Creator add-on for Gravity Forms

You’ll notice you can have multiple fields in the title, and then I am just separating the other data using OG HTML titles. Also, I figured out that taking the form fields and then translating them into tags and categories is pretty easy as well thanks to Advanced Post Creation. The final piece was getting my image to display, and I originally was running into issues cause it was only bringing in the URL, but like with the titles after wrapping the merge tag {Media Image:34} in an img src= HTML wrapper it worked cleanly, and my entry for an Italian VHS tape of The Shining looked something like this.

Screenshot of the bavLibraries first entry for the VHS tape of The Shining

The bavLibraries first entry for the VHS tape of The Shining

I am happy!

Posted in Reclaim Edtech | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Thinking about Edtech

In fact, I’m always thinking about edtech in some fashion, but these days I’m thinking about the term itself. There are more than a few reasons for this, not least of which Reclaim Hosting was essentially born as an edtech company, even if trailing edge. And over the last 6-8 months we’ve finally gotten to a point in our history where we can double-down on those roots in order to build a group that can work more closely with edtechs at various institutions, organizations, and beyond.

But one of the things about the term edtech, much like open, is that its meaning is elusive. More recently when folks talk about edtech it’s often associated with venture capital buy-outs, start-ups, and the broader LMS market. So much of the discussion around edtech is akin to a market-driven spectator sport. While that financial logic around the field has accelerated over the last decade, it’s always been there to some degree. Blackboard was the evil empire when I entered the field in the early 2000s, and while they seem almost quaint now, their financial reports were not the focus of the work of edtech, as I understood that term. They were very much outside that term altogether, they weren’t edtech they were the LMS. Edtech, on the other hand, was a brave new distributed community of bloggers that were narrating and sharing their practices for others to benefit from freely. The work was a demonstration of faith and hope in not only education, but the power of the web to augment that process. I understand that the results were uneven at best, at the same time that sense of possibility and hope is how I still understand the term edtech because that is the garden from which I was cultivated. What’s more, I would hate to suggest to a whole new generation of edtechs coming up that possibility and hope were a thing of the past. That very logic is why I hate the children of the 60s so much, they suggested their revolution was all that ever mattered. I guess Generation X emo dies hard.

In recent years I’ve become less enamored of the term open, which was an adjective/positionality many edtechs embraced for the past 20 years. But the term has become muddied, and the constant handwringing about licensing was a warning sign for me that it was, ironically, more about control and branding than anything resembling the liberating rhetoric of a movement it often championed. To see the avant garde of that movement so willingly consign themselves to venture capital and the inevitable professional perdition that follows is a shame, but it’s also a choice. There are a lot of edtechs, in the true sense of that word for me, that have willingly resisted the lure of exchanging cachet for cash. Folks who continue to good work, edtechs that I deeply respect who reside far from the maddening crowd of the financials of firms that have little to no interest in the transformative power of augmenting teaching and learning—despite the claims they make. Edtech as an approach that is exploratory, experimental, and creative, not to mention generous and unbolted to the logic of licensing and litigation. That’s my edtech, and I like it.

Posted in edupunk, indieedtech, Instructional Technology | Tagged | 15 Comments

bavaradio on ds106radio, 6-15-2022

This was a fun show stitching together a bunch of songs via Youtube that I had been feeding off all morning. There’s a lot of Ty Segall, Courtney Barnett, and IDLES, so that is fair warning. I re-listened the morning after the show, something I rarely do, and it reminded me why I love ds106radio so much.

bavaradio on ds106radio 6-15-2022
Posted in on air | 4 Comments

Is Edtech Dead?

Funny, sometimes the end appears closer in the rearview mirror than it actually is, and that’s been a lesson for me the last couple days. I hate to see good folks leave a field I have invested deeply in for almost two decades, but I understand we all have our reasons. Whether burn-out or sell-out, the end is always right around the corner.

Am I working in a Reclaim bubble? I remain very much compelled by the work we do in this “dead” field, and I have not abandoned all hope just yet. In fact, I think it would be not only impossible, but irresponsible, for me to do so given all the amazing talent that has come up both through Reclaim directly, as well as through my association with all the creative and committed folks at the schools we work with. Seeing the next generation of edtechs come into their own has been the unexpected joy of playing the long-game.

And, to be clear, we aren’t all sell-outs.  Reclaim Hosting hasn’t sold out. We walk the walk. We still control our own destiny to the degree any small entity can, and we are not dismissing a field that represents one of the many borderlands of our shared digital future, cause I am not so sure I am seeing any alternatives offered to that one.

We all have choices to make, and I applaud those who act on them authentically. That said, I think about all the amazing people I have worked with in this field and I can honestly say that edtech’s not dead yet.

Posted in Instructional Technology | 4 Comments

Week 1: Form of an Awesome Personal Media Catalog

I spent the morning playing with Gravity Forms to figure out how to create a form to start cataloging my personal media collection. I can now understand why folks get addicted to creating forms for everything, once you can a handle on a few basics. Soon I’ll be thinking I can actually “program,” a scary place for me to be in the borderlands of nonprogramistan.

Image of nonprogramistan propaganda poster

The form I am playing with will provide a simple way for me to catalog my media collection, which consist of movies of various formats, books, comics, and some toys. Not sure toys are media, but I am going to “play” with that category a bit. I started the process my using a standard text field for both Title and year media was created. I then added a standard drop-down for media types, and added a whole bunch, with the idea that depending on what media your selected (book, VHS, CD, etc.) the fields you would see would change.

Drop-down of Media types that provide the basis of conditional logic choices for this form

This would allow me to immediately hit one of this week’s goals: conditional logic. What I did not understand right away was that conditional logic does not apply to the Media type as much as the fields I would create after, such as running time, region, film genre, etc. It is on those fields that I would need to specify the Conditional logic as any of the media formats that are film related.

Image of Gravity forms conditional logic selector

Setting conditional logic for Running time to be only related to film formats

So now when i go to the form and choose a format that is related to film, the conditional logic kicks in and I can see relevant fields like running time, film genre, and region:

Gravity forms media preview

Gravity Forms Preview

Whereas if the Media Type is book none of these fields will show:

If no film format is selected, all relevant film fields are hidden, that’s conditional logic!

So, I have a few goals accomplished here, figuring out conditional logic, ordering the form using simple drag and drop to have fields side-by-side, and finally using a CSS Class Name, gf_red_alert,  to change the color of the required asterisk for the entire form:

Image of Gravity forms screenshot for CSS Class Name

Changing CSS Class Name for asterisk to make it red

The next step would be to play with pagination for this form to break it up and make it manageable. But I didn’t have enough on the form yet and was still trying to think through a good way to make logical section, so that will be something I include as I keep building.

The last challenge for this week was to play with confirmations and notifications, but given this is a form I will only use (unless I truly do force my kids down the data entry path) I figured notifications might not be all that useful. Though I may be overlooking something here. But I was able to manage a silly confirmation message that will be a constant a reminder that my physical media addition is not healthy. Changing this is as easy as clicking on the Confirmations option for the selected form and changing the default text to something you like, and it can even have links, images, etc.

And with that I do feel like I have some of the basics for Gravity Forms under my belt and I’m ready for Week 2 of the Form of Awesome Flex Course to start fine-tuning the process. I am wondering if I can streamline any of the form fields that might be automatically filled based on fields already filled out. Not entirely sure given my form is sparse yet, but I like how this process starts to force you to think in a bit more structured way, which is not something I am used to.

Posted in Reclaim Edtech | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Peertube 4.2: Permanent Live Archiving, Web-based Video Editing, and more

Peertube 4.2.0 has been out for just over a week, and I finally got some time this morning to play around with it a bit. I have to say this is software I remain super excited about, and part of that is the upgrading to new versions is super simple. This versions has some really major features in my mind, and while video stats are nice (I have limited use for them given no one writes the Colonel anymore), it’s the web-based editing of videos and ability to automatically archive permanent live videos that have me super excited. I did a quick test this morning to test the permanent live to archive feature, and it worked! Here is the video I created as a permanent live stream that immediately archived a copy of that stream as a new video:

And it worked! What happened was that the permanent live URL for the stream automatically produced an archival copy with a unique URL. Going forward I can use rtmp:// (and the associated stream key) in OBS  without having to change it with every new stream. To save a copy of each stream previously you had to create a  “normal live” versus a “permanent/recurring live.” But with 4.2.0 you can archive the streams using either method, which allows you to have a consistent URL to point people at with for every new stream.

Image of normal vs recurring streams in Peertube

Normal vs recurring streams in Peertube

The other piece here that was new to me was the ability to choose the latency mode. Peertube is designed to work as a P2P video sharing platform, but you can turn that off for streaming if you want less latency, which I realized after my test above.

Image of latency options in Peertube

Latency streaming options in Peertube

The other feature you can enable is basic video editing in the browser, which can be useful for those false starts and bad endings 🙂 I have only played with this a bit, and it is pretty rudimentary, but so is what it needs to accomplish. You can also easily add an intro, outro, and watermark from the studio web interface.

Image of Peertube Studio

Peertube Studio

The other piece worth noting here is that the Video Studio feature was funded by the “Direction du numérique pour l’Éducation du Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale, de la Jeunesse et des Sports” (french Ministry of National Education). Specifically by the team in charge of the platform, “which offers remote working tools to French employees and teachers.” Open source software for the win. And I can’t help but think of the good work the folks in British Columbia are doing with OpenETC when reading about the French education initiative to provide educators and staff powerful, open source tools to make the transition to remote work that much smoother, richer and data-empowering.

Image of Video Stats in Peertube

Video Stats in Peertube

I failed to mention the video stats feature in my test video, but that is yet another cool feature of 4.2. If nothing else this release points to some robust development happening in this open source, federated video hosting software that has me super excited about the future of both and

Posted in, PeerTube, ReclaimTV | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A Bird’s-Eye View of Gravity Forms

In 2012 (more than 10 years ago!) I wrote a post about how Cathy Derecki‘s vision for transitioning the Faculty Notes newsletter, Eagle Eye, from a bi-annual print publication to a website and weekly email. We worked on that starting in 2010, and in retrospect as I am working through Gravity Forms in earnest almost 12 years later I am realizing that this process was as good an example as I can find for streamlining a publication using WordPress. 12 years later it is still going strong!

Image of UMW's EagleEye newsletter

I was reminded of this now ancient experiment during last week’s live session when Ed Beck shared a project he is hoping to prototype using Gravity Forms. He plans on using this tool to move the Oneonta Bulletin from the current process of filling out a form that is then copied and pasted into WordPress and then again into an email, to simply allowing for self-service form submission for the community that can be vetted and published, while automating the regular email newsletter piece. It eliminates several steps in the process, and highlights a very simple, powerful use-case for a tool like Gravity Forms.

For me it highlights the idea that a form like this is often a step in a workflow of online publishing that can then make the process of sharing across a campus that much more efficient and seamless, while at the same time retaining control over the tools. We haven’t touched EagleEye for close to 12 years, hell I have been gone from UMW for almost 7 and Cathy even more. There may have been some tweaks that I don’t know about, but let’s face it, nothing speaks to value more than something continuing long after tenure. Kudos to Cathy for an awesome project that continues to prove its value to this day.

Posted in Reclaim Edtech | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Linda McKenna is ds106 #4life

Yesterday I had the opportunity to realize a long-time dream of reflecting on ds106 with one of the many awesome internauts that traveled where no student had gone before. Linda McKenna was just the internaut I was looking for, and as luck would have it she still hosts websites on Reclaim Hosting and we happened to re-connect in a support ticket, wherein I asked her to chat about ds106 as part of our Reclaim Today series, and she graciously agreed!

It was a really fun discussion, and Linda is amazing. I clearly remember her role in helping to build out the ds106 in[SPIRE] site with Alan Levine, which, as it happens, used Gravity Forms. What I did not expect was how many memories flooded back when she recommended we take a look at her final ds106 reflection video wherein she highlights not only her projects, but all the people that made it possible. It encapsulates the magic of that community so well.

There are the amazing TDC assignments, her brilliant photography, Kim Droom and the ongoing Emre5087 investigation, as well her ridiculously amazing audio work wherein she wrote a script and recruited open ds106er Norm Wright to collaborate with her on the project.

This Week in ds106: Kim Droom vs Enre5807 from umwnewmedia on Vimeo.

It was a wild and at times strangely emotional trip down memory lane that further reinforced why I keep returning to ds106: it was/is a fountain of awesome that created so many rich tributaries that it’s impossible to catch them all from draining into the web of oblivion. Luckily chatting with Linda reminded me they’re all still there, and the spirit is alive and well for making some art dammit. Linda described her approach to ds106 as “all in,” which says it all. It’s not about your grade in a disposable course at university, but about committing to connect and create as part of one’s lived experience. It is the essence of any work worth doing. That’s #4life!

Posted in digital storytelling, Reclaim Today | Tagged , | 6 Comments

The bava Library

I mean Chump’s getting one, right? What are they going to stock the shelves with, gold-plated nudie mags?

I’ve been thinking a bit about what I want to try and build as part of Tom Woodward‘s Form of Awesome Flex Course dedicated to building things with Gravity Forms. The first live session is this Thursday, June 9th 7th, at 3 PM, and I just spent some time creating a new WordPress instance with Gravity Forms installed at My thinking is that my project for the month will be to create a form-driven site that allows for entering data for books, VHS tapes, laser discs, DVDs, vinyl, CDs, and sundry other formats. I’ve accumulated a fair amount of junk over the years, and at the end of the month a container-full of it will be arriving on Italy’s shores.

I am trying to make my time this month learning Gravity Forms relevant, so I’m setting a goal of building a fairly simply form to record the various media and then make it discoverable according to certain categories, tags, topics, etc. I’m also wondering if I can find a way to scan and pre-propulate data with bar codes and ISBN codes like the app Libib does for Reclaim Video‘s collection, but that seems a bit advanced at the moment. Just having a site to make my kids do mindless data entry would be a perfect way to prepare them for their inevitable futures….

I know Libib already does all this and more, and I could just use that app instead, but a) it’s yet another monthly subscription fee and b) I like the simple frame of a basic cataloging system in WordPress for this project. It’s easy to conceptualize; I already know most of the metadata needed; and I can probably hook into some cool existing libraries to get quick screenshots to make the visuals fairly easy and dynamic—but that might be wishful thinking. Regardless, it will give me a framework to understand what is and isn’t possible through Gravity Forms—which is really the endgame.  So, I now have my site, Gravity Forms installed, and a bitchin’ project to work through, I am ready to go!

Posted in bavalibrary, Reclaim Edtech | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Joining the 600K Club on Gyruss

After Pac-man, Gyruss might be my favorite golden age arcade game. I picked one up last Summer for the bavacade, and I have not looked back. I recorded a couple of high scores wherein I finally broke 400K last August, but the bummer was that I wasn’t able to install the hi-score save kit until last month. With that finally set, I now know every time I play is a chance for bavacade fame. But with travel and work taking most of my time over the last month I hadn’t really locked-in for some serious play time until yesterday, and that’s when my Gyruss game went up a notch!

Screenshot of Gyruss hi-score 6-5-2022

Gyruss hi-score 6-5-2022

631,850! I was kinda surprised myself, I knew I was having a good game, but when I was approaching 500,000 with seven ships left I had an idea I would not only break 500K for the first time, but maybe even chase 600K in the same sitting—and lo and behold it happened. This was one of those games where everything breaks in your favor and you can feel the perfect blend of dumb luck and brute force experience paying off, I want to thank my wife, my children, the academy, and all the hordes of bava faithful. This is the apex of my career!*

Screenshot of Gyruss hi-score 6-5-2022

Gyruss hi-score 6-5-2022

Funny enough I had stopped playing Gyruss this month in order to focus on trying to get better at Robotron (trying to break my personal 200K ceiling), which is not going well. So, in order to re-invigorate my confidence, I somewhat reluctantly sat down at Gyruss and the rest is bavacade history….for now.


*To put this in context the all-time hi-score is 1,304,100 set by Richard Marsh in 2004. So, no victory laps for me yet, but I am coming for you Richard, cause I can hold my breath for a long time!

Update: Well, my pipe dream dream didn’t last long after learning that the new world record is actually 70,736,950 set by Danish retro-gamer Kim “Kanonarm” Köbke in a 62 hour game. How ridiculous is that? They even made a film about it!

Posted in bavacade, video games | Tagged , | Leave a comment