Monday, February 23, 2009

Improving the Usability of myUMBC

myUMBC has become, in the words of one of our students, very media heavy. Even with a broadband connection, it takes a long time for things to load, presumably due to load on the servers and perhaps scripting locally. One of the annoying things is a rotating banner of supposed news items. I've chosen not to do anything about that yet. Two things I have disabled, however, using Firefox add-on Karma Blocker, are: The chipmunk animation that loads whenever a page is not found. This is doubly bad, since it's not only many useless bytes transferred, but it also makes noise. This is triply bad, because the 404 not found chipmunk normally occurs after clicking a bad link in myUMBC. Karma Blocker rule:
# Block myUMBC 404 not found chipmunk
For those who want to see the animation, the full URL is The second thing is the MyUMBC alert "feature." There is good reason to have such features, but when it's used to tell people not to respond to phishing attacks and to tell people after the fact that the University opened late that morning, it's not clear it's useful. But it also takes several clicks to dismiss the alert, and until dismissed there's this huge honking red thing in a prominent position on the screen. The solution is to get rid of the red thing. The alert is presented as a white number on a red background. Get rid of the background, and it bcomes a white number on a white background. Much better. Karma Blocker rule:
# Block UMBC Alerts

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