My iBook is Back! [en]

Got my iBook back after 6 weeks of repairs.

[fr] J'ai enfin récupéré mon iBook, après plus de 6 semaines de réparation (par ma faute et par la faute d'Apple).

Finally, finally, after over a month and a half of waiting, I got my iBook back. Bonus: they changed the topboard, so I have a new trackpad and white wrist wrests.

Why did it take so long? Partly my fault, partly Apple’s fault.

  1. I didn’t register my AppleCare correctly, so the shop had to do it for me outside the registration deadline, and (more or less understandably) Apple took their time.
  2. Apple sent the shop a faulty motherboard to repair my iBook with; the shop changed it, the computer still didn’t work, they had to order another one (from second order to repaired iBook, it took less than 10 days — Monday to the Wednesday after).

It wasn’t too bad living without a computer at home, except when (a) I found myself the center of media attention once again and (b) when I had to stay at school to type up tests and stuff for school (that was the worst). I found myself reading more, and watching a little too much TV for my taste (got nearly-hooked on a couple of series — let me know if you’re planning to offer me a birthday present, I’ve got ideas).

Actually, it was a little like being on holiday. I missed my online friends, and a bunch of things happened in my absence; some of which I regret not having been part of, some of which I’m happy to have avoided. I had lots of things to write during the first weeks, and that was a little frustrating. I’m not one to write on paper and type up later (partly because writing by hand is difficult for me because of RSI), so quite a lot of things simply disappeared in the void.

I’ve more or less caught up on e-mail (I had been checking it every couple of days at school anyway), paid a visit to the blogs I like, said hi to some people on IRC and IM, and now I need to try to get back to what I was working on online “before”. That might take some more time, particularly as we are nearing the last weeks of school now.

Glad to be back!

TF1: Journal de 20 heures, blogs [fr]

Petite critique du sujet sur les blogs au Journal de 20h de TF1 ce soir.

[en] French TV briefly talked about weblogs tonight, following the incidents with teenagers insulting teachers on their skyblogs and getting evicted from school as a result.

Now we all know that blogs are personal diaries with lots of photos and racist comments. Cool.

Un très bref sujet sur les blogs au journal de 20h sur TF1 ce soir. Ça commençait assez bien avec Delphine — dommage (d’où le “assez”) qu’ils aient eu sous la main une commentatrice si pertinente de la blogosphère et qu’ils se soient contentés de lui faire jouer le rôle de “personne jeune qui a un blog”. (Bon, c’est vrai, face à  Cyril dans le rôle du spécialiste ès blogs, on fait pas le poids…)

Prétexte du sujet: les ados expulsés de l’école pour avoir insulté leurs profs sur leurs skyblogs.

Ce qu’on en retient:

  1. les blogs, c’est des sortes de journaux intimes où l’on montre beaucoup de photos, puis on fait des commentaires racistes
  2. les parents devraient peut-être commencer à  s’intéresser à  ce que font leurs rejetons en ligne, sous peine de se retrouver un jour au tribunal
  3. encore une fois, la presse passe comme chat sur braises sur la “normalité” (Delphine) pour s’étaler sur les dérapages en tartinant joyeusement pour le plus grand bonheur du grand public, qui sait maintenant que les blogs, eh bien, voir points 1 et 2.

Soit dit en passant, la TSR s’y est intéressée avant TF1 (et na!), dans le reportage de Philippe Grand qui a précédé mon interview. (Désolée de ne pas vous donner le lien direct, le site de la TSR semble avoir un petit problème…. Est-ce que vous pensez que je leur ai envoyé trop de visiteurs?)

Teens, Schools, and Blogs [en]

Teenagers are getting in trouble in France for saying insulting things about their teachers on their blogs.

[fr] Un article dans Le Monde et un passage sur France 3 pour les ados virés de l'école à  cause de leur skyblog. Cet article fait un peu le tour de la mauvaise presse de Skyblog, et de la problèmatique générale des ados et des blogs telle que je la vois.

As I mentioned yesterday, the French press is talking about the fact that more and more school kids are being chucked out of school for having insulted their teachers on their skyblogs. After the article in Libération on Tuesday, today we have another (very similar) article in Le Monde, and coverage on French national TV midday news.

No big surprise for me. First of all, despite employing three full-time moderators (my sources will remain confidential), Skyblog’s prime interest remains money, and is in no way trying to provide a service where teenagers can be constructive, learn, and be protected.

This isn’t the first nasty blogging story they are involved with: a few months ago, two teenagers reportedly commited suicide after having announced it on their skyblog. A few weeks later, when the documentary for Mise au Point was being prepared, the journalist was investigating an episode in Geneva where racist statements on skyblogs leading to real fights made a youth centre decide to forbid access to the platform from their computers. Skyblog refused to comment, when he contacted them to enquire about their moderation policy. As I stated in my interview after that, moderation is technically possible. You only need to decide to attribute sufficient ressources to do it properly, which means it must be pretty high up on your company’s priority list. 🙂

The two incidents I’ve had first-hand accounts of in local schools involved skyblogs, too.

The second reason I’m not too surprised this kind of issue is coming up is that teens are left to explore the internet and blogging on their own, for the most part. Parents don’t know much about what is going on online, though they probably do know about e-mails and search engines. I remember an article (unavailable now, thanks to paying archives) which stated that many consumers of child porn are in fact teenagers. Teachers don’t know much more. Of course, schools do the usualy prevention stuff (don’t talk to strangers, don’t give your name, beware of porn and pedophiles), which is good — but it is not sufficient.

Teenagers are content providers on the internet. They are putting loads of their photographs online. (I’ve noticed that the representation teens around here have of a weblog is in fact a “skyblog”, meaning an online photo album where friends can comment.) They are talking about themselves. For them, blogs are an extension of recess talks, text messages, and MSN messenger.

As I’ve said before and will keep saying, blogging is good, teens need to “learn” it, but they need guidance — and for that, they need to come in contact with adults who know what they are talking about. And we need people amongst those designing the “internet prevention” modules who are experienced bloggers.

The nature of the internet is tricky when it comes to privacy (I mean, we as adults have a hard enough time dealing with some of these issues!) and teens tend to consider that what they put online is personal, in a sense that school shouldn’t meddle with it. They don’t realise they can be held accountable by their school or justice for silly things they write on the net, even when it is done outside school hours.

Ados, blogs, école [fr]

Ados skyblogueurs qui oublient qu’internet est un média public… L’école s’en mêle lorsque les limites sont franchies!

[en] Article in French newspaper Libération about teens who are being excluded or suspended from school because they insulted classmates or teachers on their skyblogs. Seems the incident that led me to give three conferences in a local school is not isolated!

On dirait que j’ai vu juste. Article dans Libération: Ferme ton blog, d’abord!

Les ados considèrent leur skyblog comme les murs de leur chambre, ou une conversation entre potes dans la cour de récré. Eh non! L’école peut également intervenir lorsque certaines limites sont dépassées. J’ai d’ailleurs donné recemment trois conférences à  des classes d’ados suite à  un incident dans une école de la région Lausannoise.

Reighikan Dojo Lausanne [fr]

Une page de pub pour le site du Reighikan Dojo, dont je m’occupe (bien mal, pour le moment).

[en] Mainly for the benefit of Google, here is a little advertising for the website of my judo school. What do you expect to find on the website of a school of martial arts?

Une fois n’est pas coutume, je profite un peu de la visibilité de ce site pour faire une page de publicité. Pas n’importe laquelle, pourtant: le Reighikan Dojo à  Lausanne est l’endroit où je pratique le judo depuis une dizaine d’années.

Cela fait un moment que je tente de mettre en place le site du Dojo, et un peu de visibilité dans Google ne gênera certainement pas.

Pour le moment, vous y trouverez horaires et adresse de contact. Qu’est-ce que vous vous attendriez à  trouver sur le site d’une école d’arts martiaux? (On y pratique le judo, l’aikido, et les armes — jo (bâton), iaido, nunchaku…)

Blogsome: a WordPress Weblog Farm [en]

A hosted WordPress weblog provider just opened. I’m testing.

[fr] Blogsome est une solution hébergée fournissant à  qui le désire un weblog WordPress en deux clics (moins d'une minute).

Check out Blogsome. It looks exciting. I’ve set up a test blog: enter a username, an e-mail address, your blog title, and there you are. 1 minute.

I’m very curious to see how this will scale, especially given my experiences with my school blogs. I’m also curious to see if they will release the code used.

If you’re trying it, please let me know what you think!

[via Ollie]

Stress [en]

A few lines on the stressful life of an apprentice-teacher. Don’t tell me we don’t deserve our holidays. Ever. Again.

[fr] Un petit aperçu du stress de l'enseignant. Et qu'on ne vienne pas me dire qu'on se la coule douce, qu'on est trop payés, et qu'on ne mérite pas nos vacances.

I’ve been thinking a lot about stress this week. I’m pretty stressed these days. I didn’t feel the stress much before the autumn holidays. I just felt very tired. Now I’m much less tired, and much more stressed.

Even though my sources of stress are multiple (private and professional, emotional and simply the sheer amount of work to do) it translates into a permanent background of “thinking of my pupils.” I just can’t get them out of my head. I go to sleep thinking of them, I wake up in the morning dreaming of them, I worry about them during the day, and even when I try to relax, they just won’t leave me alone. I’m usually pretty good at “blanking out” and thinking of “nothing”, but it just doesn’t work anymore nowadays.

It doesn’t help that I don’t have much time to do non-school things. Most of the time I have out of school is spent correcting and marking tests, preparing tests and classes, or discussing various school issues (relational or directly educational) with various people (some of whom must really be sick of hearing about all this stuff by now). Oh, and sleeping. Did I meantion dreaming about school? To put it shortly, I’m finding it hard to unwind.

However, even though I’m having a hard (sometimes rough) time, I’m confident that I’m doing what is necessary to improve the situation, and that I’m handling it as best I can. I am surrounded by competent and helpful people, and that helps a lot. It won’t last forever, and things are under control.

Just don’t tell me that teachers do nothing but sit on their arse all day waiting for their undeservedly long holidays, and go on “strike” because they think they’re not being paid enough. It pisses me off ever so slightly.

Being an Adult [en]

Being an adult isn’t easy.

[fr] Est-ce difficile, d'être un adulte? On ne se réveille pas un matin magiquement 'adulte'. La vie ne devient pas plus facile parce qu'on a déjà  fêté certains anniversaires. Il y a toujours un effort à  fournir. Je pense que l'on se retrouve finalement toujours aussi démunis face aux étapes de la vie. Grandir, c'est apprendre à  affronter l'inconnu. Et ça a quelque chose d'effrayant.

‘Is it hard to be an adult?’ he said. ‘It’s certainly better than being a kid. You can’t get in trouble with your parents. And you don’t have homework.’

He’s thirteen. Yes, being a teenager is tough. I see it in my classes, and hear it from my students too. Some of them are voicing it on their weblogs already. Can’t do what you want. Can’t say everything. Have to do as your told.

I find being an adult isn’t easy either. Homework disappears, but is replaced to all these things we ‘have to do’: taxes, shopping, cooking, cleaning, paying bills. And if you’re lucky enough to be a teacher, you almost get real homework: tests to correct and classes to prepare. I spend more time at my ‘homework’ than the kids I teach — that will change, but this year, I certainly am.

Yes, it’s hard being an adult. You don’t wake up one morning suddenly ‘adult’, and magically up to it. You remain yourself. You learn how to pay the bills, cook, clean up, live without your parents, but all in all, there is never a clear line crossed into adulthood. You carry who you are with you at all times.

I’ve long lived in the illusion that life would suddenly one day become ‘easy’, that things would fall into place and all the tough stuff would just vanish. I now know that is not how life goes. Life is always challenging. Growing up is learning to deal with those challenges. But the tough times don’t go away.

The first real insight I had about what ‘being an adult’ meant was during one of my early conversations with Aleika, in India. She was telling me how being a parent isn’t something one can be really prepared for. As a kid, we always think our parents know what they are doing — but as a first-time parent, you just do what you can. You don’t know much more than before the baby arrived. You’re not transformed into another person because you just gave birth.

And it goes on. Becoming a grandparent and growing old is also a first-time experience for those who go through it. I think no stage in life is really easy. Growing up is about taking risks. Doing things you’re not really fully prepared to do. Taking responsability for your actions and your life. It’s exciting, and it’s frightening.

La vie n’est pas un long fleuve tranquille.

Requirements for a WordPress Installer Script [en]

To install 30+ WordPress blogs on a server, it would be nice to have an automatic installation script. Here is a list of what this script should do for me.

[fr] Pour installer plus de trente weblogs WordPress sur mon serveur, il serait utile d'avoir un script d'installation en PHP. Quelqu'un a offert d'en écrire un pour moi. Ce billet récapitule ce que devrait faire un tel script, de mon point de vue (installation et configuration de WordPress en fonction d'un nom d'utilisateur).

As you may know, I’m shortly going to install 30+ WordPress blogs on my server. Noderat on #wordpress kindly offered to have a go at writing a PHP script to automate WP installs. I sent him this list of what the ideal script should be able to do for me, but on second thoughts, I’m posting it here so that everybody may see it. Of course, if you know of an existing script which already does this, let me know!

  • take $username + $password as input
  • install wordpress in a subdir named “$username”, using table prefix “$username_” and with an extra user (on top of admin) named “$username” (password=”$password”), user level 3
  • mysql user should be “$username” too (password “$password” also), with grants only on the tables belonging to this weblog
  • set permalink scheme to
    /archives/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/ for monthlies and /categories for categories
  • generate .htaccess in directory, based on this template, with “blog” replaced by “$username” everywhere
  • in wp-config: define (‘WPLANG’, ‘fr’) and edit appropriate lines
  • wp-includes/languages and wp-content/plugins should be symlinked to directories I can specify in the script
  • blog admin password should be reset to something I can specify in the script

I should be able to edit the script config file to provide mysql root user + pass, wordpress database name.

It would also be interesting if the script was built in such a way that it could be further modified/developed to allow installation of blogs on separate subdomains rather than subfolders. From the point of view of the filesystem the blogs live in, this wouldn’t change much — but some extra WordPress options would need editing (e.g. blog address), as well as the Apache and Bind config files necessary to set up the subdomain. This is not mandatory, but could be useful at some point (if we’re thinking in the line of WordPress-farming).