Friday, October 25, 2013

Getting enough sleep is key to improving Moodle

Copyrighted by Bark.
Here's the thing. Advances in Moodle depends on code customisation to fulfil your user requirements, right? Well then, if Moodle code customisation depends on the brain power and creativity of a Moodle developer, shouldn't we should take sleep - or the lack of sleep - more seriously?

What does one require to modifying Moodle intelligently? A logical mind for detailed problem solving with an eye for details. A reasonable good memory to keep track of which core PHP files were modified, how, why and when. A brain that was cold booted with a duration of deep sleep before starting work.
In my recent past, I was like thinking that I could get by with 6 or at the very least 5 hours of sleep.

The reason for my lack of sleep was a combination of job-related stress, waking up early to send the kids to school, spending too much time coding after office hours, excessive programming and late night Net surfing. It was taking a toll on me.The result was that I was yawning more during the daytime and my memory seemed to be less effective. Does this sound familiar to you?

Monday, October 21, 2013

How to hide the Description Question Type boxes in the Quiz Navigation 'block'/section of Moodle 2.x.

School quiz. Source:

The Description Question Type is useful when you want to include text or graphics before a quiz section. The one problem I find is that the Quiz Navigation block will show up a  [i] box for every Description question type. Not very user-friendly for the student who is taking the quiz.

For three days I searched for a solution to the problem. Talk about tough!

After many hits and misses, I finally got it! I just had to add the following code

   if (!$this->attemptobj->is_real_question($slot)) {

to the file named attemptlib.php. The magic code goes immediately inside the foreach loop of the public function get_question_buttons() function, like so:

The effect of this code hack is immediately apparent. Here's what the Quiz Navigation block looks like now.

I find this a very elegant solution to a real design and usability problem. Do you agree? I hope this will be useful for your quizzes.

Frankie Kam

Font Awesome icons as PNG and JPG image files

Font Awesome is simply awesome! Many thanks to Favid Gandy for this font.

Font Awesome gives you scalable vector icons that can instantly be customized — size, color, drop shadow, and anything that can be done with the power of CSS.

Recently I managed to enable Font Awesome on my Moodle production site. The result is that I am now able to display Font Awesome CSS fonts on any Moodle resource or Moodle activity just by installing Julian Ridden's Font Awesome filter and by following his instructions here and here.

I've created two photomosaics of your images using the Font Awesome icons. This took me almost 30% of a whole day's work. I had to figure out how to automatically convert the Font Awesome icons into PNG files using Python (the toughest part!). Then I had to batch convert 378 PNG files into JPG format (only after a tough web search). Finally, I used AndreaMosaic to create the final mosaics using a combination of 2,000 repeating JPG images of the icons (the easiest part!).


A photomosaic of the original image found here.

Here's a self-potrait done for fun!

Best viewed from a distance of 3 feet away from the monitor.

If it helps anyone, I've also created a zip file that has the PNG and JPG images of all 378 Font Awesome icons. I doubt if you can find the icons in image format anywhere on the Internet. Of course, Font Awesome, as a graphical font by itself has an advantage over the image format. Anyway for what it's worth, here's the link:

Frankie Kam

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Make your Moodle 2.x Quiz Navigation Section come to life with this useful mouseover hack


How would you like to transform your humble Quiz Navigation section into a mini Information System?

Now you can, thanks to Michael Weston and Tim Hunt, who bounced this brilliant idea around from conception to fruition. Michael asked if the Quiz Navigation question links could display the quiz question text on mouseover:

Java security warnings make it impossible to use Nanogong? Here's the solution.

Nanogong is one of the best things to happen to Moodle. The Nanogong plugin allows you to make voice recordings on your Moodle site. You can easily post recordings in Moodle forums or as a simple label activity.

But Nanogong didn't come without its own set of problems. Although Nanogong seemed to work fine on my Moodle 2.5 site, In the past I did get constant java security warnings  (Java 1.7.0_25 on my PC) - rendering it almost impossible for me to work with it.

The Beauty (Nanogong recorder for Moodle)
and the (Java) Beast

The irritating problem with java security warnings popping up everytime is a real deal-breaker when it comes to promoting the use of Nanogong. However, Nanogong is too good a plugin to not use on any Moodle site just because of some irritating and pesky pop up security warnings! So Nanogong is worth saving!
Here's the procedure to save the (your) day. Warning! Use at your own risk.

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