Desktop Help Request Client

My Windows desktop application (formerly known as Info Gatherer) is now on GitHub!

Direct link to the GitHub project: Desktop Help Request Client repository

Prior to today, I had only used the version control system Subversion, so Git was completely new to me. The GitHub tutorial made it easy to get started. Learning about git status was helpful, too. 😛 I still have a lot to learn about Git, but it’s fun to learn something new. 🙂

A slightly customized version of Desktop Help Request Client (DHRC) was installed on the University of Washington Information School lab computers this week. I’m pretty geeked that people are going to be using it. :geek:

Info Gatherer

Project Scope

My husband, Nick West, works at the Information School at the University of Washington. Yesterday, Nick told me that the team he works with could use my help. They needed a desktop application that would run on Windows (specifically, Windows 7). The application would gather some basic system information about the computer, along with information from the user, and then post the data (in JSON format) to a given URL.

Info Gatherer
My Info Gatherer application

The information they wanted was:

  • Machine name
  • Username of logged-in user
  • Local IP address
  • List of running processes
  • Timestamp
  • Name (submitted by user)
  • Email (submitted by user)
  • Comments (submitted by user)

The application itself would be a form with name, email, and comment fields and a submit button for submitting the data (the system information would be hidden from the user).

Continue reading Info Gatherer

Social Media at Wayne State University

Three months ago, I started working at Wayne State University as the Web Content Administrator (aka Web Content Ninja 🙂 ) in the Marketing and Communications department. Part of my job includes managing the university’s social media outlets, so I wanted to share some of what that entails.


Wayne State’s Twitter account, @waynestate, is the social media account I use the most. What I love about Twitter is that I can see what people are saying about the university and respond to them immediately. Twitter is a fantastic tool for getting the word out about news and events, but, more importantly, it serves as an excellent customer service tool. I’m able to address questions and concerns from students right away and give them the information they need. Since working at Wayne State, we’ve received several compliments about our Twitter account. Below are two of my favorites:

Twitter Compliments
Twitter: "@waynestate is a great example of using sm {social media} for brand management. Quick response time, relevant and current. All colleges should do this." and "I wish MSU had a general Twitter like @waynestate does. I'm jealous. They're really handy."

We use a tool built in-house to post tweets, rate tweets, and track various Twitter-related information. One of my favorite things is to see how many people click on the links in the tweets I send out. It’s really interesting to see what people are interested in. A month ago, I found an article about Detroit being rated the “world’s most underrated city” and I tweeted about it. It’s been my most popular tweet thus far, with 576 clicks as of this moment.

Detroit was named the "World's Most Underrated City" by Travel & Leisure...
Twitter: "Detroit was named the "World's Most Underrated City" by Travel & Leisure"


Wayne State also has a Facebook page, which I monitor and occasionally post news, events, and pictures on. For the most part, though, people are free to post whatever they want on our Facebook page. I only remove or hide posts that are spam or offensive (although, they are not mutually exclusive 😉 ).

People use our Facebook page to spread the word about events, buy/sell textbooks, find out more about Detroit, get in touch with other students, and ask questions about the university. And some students occasionally use it as a place to complain about the university. 😛


Formspring was new to me when I started working here. It is a social question-and-answer website. We use it on the Admissions website for students to ask general questions about the university and the admission process. Having previously worked in the Admissions department at Wayne State, I was well-equipped to answer these questions, although I’m not the only one who responds to our Formspring questions.

Unfortunately, not everyone has been using Formspring as intended. Rather than asking general questions, many students ask for help regarding their specific situation and we do not have the information nor the tools to help them with those issues. Other students think it is more like a chatroom, so we occasionally see questions that only say “hello.” We’re working on revising how Formspring is displayed on the Admissions site to help the users get the most from it.

One of the other things we have been worried about with Formspring is whether people are actually seeing the responses we post. Well, our worries were confirmed when I recently saw the question below (see the image below) on Formspring. The student’s question greatly amused me as I wondered how the student was planning on getting his/her answer, when he/she didn’t know where to look for it, lol. 😛

Where can I see answers to all the questions I asked?
Formspring: "Where can I see answers to all the questions I asked?"

Wayne State Computer Science Transfer

It was recently announced that Wayne State University’s Computer Science department would be transferring from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) to the College of Engineering, effective in Fall 2011.

Transferring to the College of Engineering is something that the Computer Science department has discussed for a while now, so it’s not a big surprise… especially since the former chair of the CS department is now the dean of the College of Engineering. 😉 The CS department at Wayne State had been in CLAS for historic reasons; it evolved from the mathematics department, rather than branching out of engineering when it was created.

And that means that I was one of the last people to receive a BS in Computer Science through CLAS at Wayne State University. 😛

Computer Science Websites

Today, I decided to take a look at some of the Computer Science websites from universities across the country. I could not believe how awful the majority of them were. Out of the 100 (yes, 100) Computer Science websites I looked at:

  • 68% looked extremely outdated
  • 26% looked moderately outdated
  • 6% looked fairly modern

Being Computer Science departments, I was expecting much more modern websites. Prospective CS students are going to be going to these websites and to advertise your department as outdated and out-of-touch is not going to impress prospective students.