Monday, February 2, 2009
UMBC's OIT has added an Alerts feature to myUMBC, the system everyone uses for everything at UMBC. Being close to people who were in Norris Hall during the Virginia Tech shootings, I understand the motivation and think that, on the face of things, the alerts are a good idea. However, they're being used for mundane matters--Wednesday around 11am I saw the alert that said campus was closed that morning until 10--and very cumbersome to dismiss. You have to click on the alert notification, click on the specific alert, and then click on something indicating that you've seen the alert. They really want to know we've seen every alert. Unfortunately, myUMBC is very media heavy, and, even from on campus, very slow. So each click takes several seconds. So I looked on myUMBC for an option to disable alerts, or some way to dismiss them more quickly. No luck. NoScript (my favorite Firefox add-on) didn't help, since the alerts aren't implemented as a specific script. So I went hunting. The hunt led to Karma Blocker 0.3.2. Essentially I tell this nifty little Firefox add-on that the myUMBC alert has bad karma, and so it keeps the alert from loading. What it really does is get rid of the red alert background, which means my count of alerts awaiting is a white number on a white background. The rule I use is: # Block UMBC Alerts [group] score=10 rule=$url=='https://my.umbc.edu/modules/dashboard/images/alert_bubble.png' OIT could easily break this by renaming or moving the image file. I'm hoping they don't. If they do, I can make the rule more general.