Monthly Archives: December 2011

Textarea Backup

I am going through my software installed on my work computer in order to transfer to a new one. This came to my attention as something potentially relevant to others.

A common problem we hear doing web-based learning management system is the web browser crashed before the user could submit a form. The complaints we hear usually are because an assignment was lost so the student received a 0 for a major grade. The ones who managed to redo the assignment in time generally never reach us. Nor do the mail messages or discussions or anything else not for a grade. The causes are many. Naturally the blame lies with us for running such a crappy product. Smart applications like WordPress post/page editor automatically save these boxes. Unfortunately, 99.99% are not smart.

An interesting Greasemonkey script, Textarea Backup, will preserve information written into a textarea form element. When the browser restarts and returns to the page, the information written into the textarea will be there.

Google Chrome does native support for Greasemonkey scripts. Mozilla Firefox still requires the Greasemonkey add-on.

With Greasemonkey installed, one can just hit the install button on a scripts page at userscripts.org and click through the various confirms one really wants to download or install it. Pretty simple to install.

Do colleges or universities actually encourage add-ons like Textarea Backup to students? Or are they left to figure out stuff like this on their own?

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

HtmlSecurity.config

If you are a CE/Vista admin, then you should probably be aware of $WLDOMAIN/serverconfs/HtmlSecurity.config.

This file has the regex code for blocking inappropriate input by users to exploit forms. Say a student wants to write a mail message to another student with JavaScript to execute malicious code to hijack a session. One of the regexes here would reject the message on Submit with an error and not take it so it would not make it into the database.

The config file makes for interesting reading. Especially at the end where an administrator has the option of turning on items to block images, background images, anchor links, and (my personal favorite) any URL to an external portal “since it would be possible for students to trick instructors into unknowingly making requests to that system.”

 

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Dream of a UGA Loss

In part I, I attended a Christmas party where others kept moving to different rooms of the house. They would move and only later would I notice I was alone.

In part II, walking home, there were cars everywhere. Some were even parked on top of houses. There was a crowd noise up ahead. It turned out to be a stadium where the SEC Championship game just ended. The UGA team had already left in defeat. The Volunteers continued to celebrate on the field by stomping on the logo in the center of the field. I thought it ought to be the LSU team and the helmets changed accordingly. Various UGA fans I knew were on the side of a hill (replacing the stands) in tears and would not talk to me.

In part III, my smartphone would not pull up the Market app. The goal was one who would identify friends at the game. Specifically I wanted to find Shannon because I knew she would want to gloat about how badly UGA played.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4