Little bit of spying

Maybe under slight influence of the latest James Bond movie, but more probably because I was asked for it, I provide you with SQL query to spy on your teachers. This asnwers a question which courses have a teacher (or teachers) and when was the first time and last time they visited their courses.
It could be used for 1.8+ version of Moodle, with default setting of roles (as roleid = 3 means "teacher" role).
I don't know about speed of this thing, so be careful of running this on production servers under heavy load. Use it lightly, no whipping of lazy teachers please :)

Btw I used Adminer, very lightweight MySql tool, for running this. This can come really handy, if you don't have anything stronger at hand.


Move category up, up and away!

Recently I needed to move newly created category name higher. So I logged as administrator, went to mymoodle.com/course/index.php page, pressed Turn editing On and..waited..waited..and waited.

I am not sure about using Ajax with moving up/down categories, but by default it could take a while to render form with all categories and subcategories. It surely took me a while for a form with 144 categories and subcategories. When you have subcategories in three level category tree it is getting to add up ;-).

Move newly created category, of course it placed itself just at the bottom, would be really bothersome with such a loading times.

So I got an idea with a quick, dirty solution. Maybe I am just dumb and you all know this, but it took me a while so I want to spare you some minutes thinking.

Survive first form loading, select category to be moved, press up or down arrow in the direction you want category to move, click it, wait for a second, just for page to start to render and stop the loading.

It's a red cross right of refresh button on your browser.

This will stop rendering form with categories and subcategories, but all hard work has already been done behind the curtains. So just enter URL in your address bar (there should be something like yourmoodle.com/course/index.php?moveup=66&sesskey=HoNFzG43Zy - moveup parameter is for category and sesskey is needed for security) or press refresh button (F5 key usually) and repeat stopping/refreshing page few steps needed for category to find new shiny place to live.

I hope I didn't insult my dear readers with such a lazy dirty trick, but these tricks are the best one and sometimes the hardest ones to think up.


Moodlerooms binds Moodle and Google Apps together

Google is getting to the schools and universities with offer of Google Apps (solution for e-mails, document management) more and more. And so it makes a sense to use widely known Moodle and create something that will be useful for both sides.

I think that recently released news on Moodlerooms site(company that is certified Moodle partner and company that brings some really good Moodle stuff again and again ;-)) about offering single sign-on between Moodle and Google App is great and I think this will help another schools to decide what they will be using to solve their e-learning needs.

Press release is to be found HERE


New features ideas? It is time...

Do you have idea for new feature for Moodle that will blow everybody minds? Feature that will be used around the world and in the nearby universe? Now it is perfect time to make something about it.

Moodle.org is preparing for another round of GSOC (Google supported contest for students) and needs new ideas.

More can be found in this announcement

(Via www.moodlerific.org )


VPN driving me mad

Today something different than usual Moodle ramblings ;-).

I use VPN connection on one of my projects. VPN is for Virtual private network. You can picture VPN as small, safe island in rough sea of the Internet ;-). It combines conveniences of private network - security and global network - access from anywhere, you can mount disks from server as local disks etc.

Set up VPN is fairly easy, you can see tutorial with pictures for example here. I created VPN connection without problem, only thing that bothered me (I am used to restarting IM services - skype, icq when connecting to the VPN) was annoying popup window demanding me to login to VPN even if I didn't want to use it.

It jumped on me on random moments, I noticed, that this may have something to do with problems with internet connection. If there were some hiccup when loading web pages, VPN thought there is a problem with net, jumped in to save the day...which has happened to be very bothering and unnecessary.

I am using Windows XP and Firefox 3, I tried to find where is the problem. Checked the network setting to disallow VPN to redial, checked Firefox setting for connection, but without luck. At last I found solution where I have never expected it. You have to go to Internet Explorer setting and set VPN connection to never dial. Windows thinks VPN as dial-up connection and Firefox takes this setting directly from Internet Explorer (strange, I know).

You can find how to set this up for example on this page .

I hope this will help someone with same problem, saves you some needed time, nerves and hairs :-)


Ugly category names on front page? Pimp it!

Did you ever take a look at your Moodle front page and thought: "This looks bad, lame textual category names everywhere, it's so boring" ?

You can change that easily and add some appropriate images instead of dull category names.

  • turn on Include topic section (see here how - don't forget to turn off displaying old categories list)

  • create or update Label in topic section on the front page

  • create or download some fancy icons, web is full of them (search www.iconarchive.com, use www.iconfinder.net, www.webappers.com has nice selections or just Google it :-) )

  • add icons into created Label

  • place them into html table or use css to position them correctly

  • select icon and Insert weblink with url to selected category to it

  • save changes

With little effort you can create beautiful Moodle front page. See examples here and here

Idea from http://www.edugeek.net forum, icons used in my examle: Lord application icon by FixIcon


Moodle failed my trust

I read today this blogpost about author's experience with "overwhelming" teachers with Moodle rich features on the training, on the presentations, just to confuse or even scare them..

I found I am guilty with that too ;-).

But another idea crossed my mind. Did you ever "hype" some Moodle feature that didn't work as you expected later? Did you say to yourself: "Oh man, I wish I have never installed this, I wish I have never spoken about that, this is so much pain in ...". Did you ever regret you went with Moodle?

This article is not about blaming Moodle, unfortunate events happen all the time everywhere. I am just interested in situations, features that didn't go well or as you planned and how did you solve that? I love happy endings ;-).

I am looking forward to your comments :-).