An Open Access Peon

19 July 2006

Managing LDAP Administration

Managing LDAP seems like a tool that creates a lot of problems while solving others. One major headache I have with LDAP is making trivial changes to database entries, for example if I've had a bug that hasn't created an entry correctly (me, bugs, never!). The best tool I've found for making tweaks to an LDAP installation is ldapadmin by Tihomir Karlovic:

Much love to tools that work and do what you want them to do!

11 July 2006

Making Word Documents Public

Having been at the sharp end of trying to retrieve information from various file formats I've come to the conclusion that editing formats are easier to get information out of than distribution formats. Or to put that another way, in 99% of cases, give me the Microsoft Word file rather than the Adobe PDF.

But the trouble with Microsoft Word (being Microsoft) is it has a habit of letting other people use your resources without your wishing them to. In Word this might be exposing sensitive (or embarrassing) comments or providing an edit history through the 'track changes' facility. Fortunately Microsoft heeded the numerous occasions where an organisation has been caught out and produced the Remove Hidden Data tool (download RHD here).

After you install the RHD tool, open your Word file then click "Remove Hidden Data" to save the document to a new, clean(er) file. Of course, if you're handling very sensitive stuff then you probably want to print-to-PDF and accept your resulting file will be less functional.

10 July 2006

Managing Statistics

Citebase provides a number of different analyses of citation and usage (hits/downloads) data. Part of the problem with this is how to provide a reasonable way to access disparate and relatively complex information. In re-designing Citebases interface I've introduced two new features that will hopefully make using its statistical data easier.

As you can see in the image these two new features are tabbed-navigation of the various citation-based navigations and usage breakdowns (using javascript + iframes). The highlighted (in red) is a "sparkline" that gives a very compact indication of the citation history. I'm not sure if this is the creator of sparklines, but I've borrowed the concept from Edward Tufte - see Ask E.T.: Sparklines. While my implementation is definitely 'cool' it would be nice to use the final point technique (the little red dot on Tufte's examples) as well, but I've not thought of how to utilise that for citations (where the neighbouring number is the total citations, which would necessitate having a cumulative graph (99% of which would be a straight line on such a small scale). Perhaps when Citebase goes live someone will come up with an inspired suggestion.

It's surprising just how much better Citebase looks when the spacing is fixed (subscript and superscript as used in formulas ordinarily cause the HTML line spacing to vary). Along with improvements to the abbreviating code and a general increase in images (to make more curved and shadowed space) I think it looks pretty spiffy.

Now I have the user registration code and statistical graphing stuff left to do.