Monday, December 14, 2009

#1125 Liam And Ben From, Merry Christmas Arrested

Show 1125 Monday 14 December
Watch today's show at YouTube or BlipTV.

Hi I'm Sarah. Welcome to The Daily English Show.

Today we have two guests on the show - Liam and Ben. They've actually both been guests on the show before. But today they're back to talk about their new website which is called Disqo. This interview was filmed before we left Japan - obviously, because you can see they're sitting on a yellow couch.

The first thing I asked about was the name of the site.

Well Disqo it's an acronym. It stands for Database of Internet Qualifying and Schooling Organisations. Have I got that the wrong way around?
Yeah, you missed out ...
Sorry, Database of Internet Schooling and Qualifying Organisations.
But it actually came from, we were looking up a, a name that we thought was a bit different and we wanted to, we wanted to make a new word, didn't we?
And we, we found a thing in Latin, the word disco actually means ... is it to learn?
Yeah, so, D-i-s-c-o. But we couldn't fit the acronym into something that made sense. So we, we ah, used it as an opportunity to make a new word basically, yeah.


Kia ora in Stick News today, Merry Christmas has been arrested.

On Sunday night police were called to a disturbance in Florida in the United States. reported police were questioning a woman when 44-year-old Merry Christmas started yelling and refused the officer's commands to go inside.
Police then arrested Merry Christmas and she was later released with a notice to appear in court. Apparently Merry Christmas was born three days after Christmas.

And that was Stick News for Monday the 14th of December.
Kia ora.

conversations with sarah
#714 How many people are involved?

Step 1: Read Sarah's lines.
Step 2: Repeat Sarah's lines and talk to Liam and Ben.

How long have you been planning this site?

Wow, a long, a long time. Like, ah, it's, it's developed from lots of different ideas. And obviously technology has, has been changing all the time in the last, you know, five years alone. So the original idea has morphed into, into what it is today.
Ah, but I guess the original concept of creating, ah, curriculums for schools in developing areas, probably started about ten years ago.
And I've been working on different ways to, to do that since then.

How many people are involved?

It's really just myself and Ben. There's another guy, Nathan, who's part of, um, our web design company, Mountain Design Lab.
Ah, and he's been helping with the more difficult coding stuff. So really it's just the three of us.

How did you get involved, Ben?

It was one day on the internet. I was, I'd just got back from a, a previous job and was looking for something interesting, like an interesting project to do.
And, ah, I think it was on Facebook chat.
Yeah, I think you were, you were still in Alaska.
Yeah, I hadn't, I hadn't spoken to Liam for about six years, the odd email maybe. And (he was) telling me about this new idea that he's got. And I was like, sounds interesting,
I could, I could get involved with that. And we sort of got talking and, yeah, I ended up moving to Japan and sort of took it on, yeah.

It must be a lot of work.

Well, yeah, I've been here, what? Eight? Nine months? Yeah, nine months. Nine months and we should be finished very soon. But yeah, the whole thing's been a massive learning process anyway.

Have you made sites like this before?

Nothing like this, no. Nothing open source which is I think the, the sort of best thing about this site is that, um, teachers can take the best things from other teachers and, and compile it together so that in the end you have the best, sort of, route of lessons and courses to make the best curriculum. And that was the hardest thing, being able to make every type of lesson selectable, um, by a different teacher so they can pick the best and being able to have a system where the best ones rise to the top so that they're seen more. So, yeah, that, that was the hardest thing about it and no, I've never done anything like that before.

How is it being funded?

Ah, at the moment it's being funded out of my pocket. Just from ... yeah, basically from Captain, so, the little bed and breakfast that I run. So basically all of the guests that stay at Captain have been funding it.

How about in the future?

Um, we're not entirely sure yet. We've, we've spoken to other people that've done similar things in terms of, you know, a non-profit or, or a charity or whatever. And it seems like if you
can make something that works and that, um, that people use, then sponsors will, will naturally come on board and want to, want to be involved.
So we're hoping to create something that's useful, and, um ... first and then sort of see what comes our way.

What kinds of challenges have you faced?

How long have you got?
What kind of challenges? Ah ... what kind of challenges have we faced?
Programming challenges probably our biggest, biggest one, isn't it?
Yeah, every, every day .. I've got to work something out that we haven't been able to do before.
But that's just the nature of building any sort of software, isn't it?
Yeah, and I mean, you've, you've constantly got to prioritize about what's really the most important.
Um, so, I mean, we could have the dream site, but it would take 15 years to build.
So you've got to unfortunately know, and obviously we've got a very limited budget, so ...
You want to get something functional out as quick as possible as well.

Tell me about the logo.

How did we come to whale?
I don't know. I can't remember.
It wasn't ...
Just brainstorming. wasn't initially because ... we found out it had the biggest brain after.
I can't remember. Just one of those ...
Everyone likes whales, don't they?
Were we drunk? No, I don't think we were drunk.

Why did you choose to build the site with Drupal?

I ask myself that about twice a day.
Ah ... it's super powerful and Drupal itself is a massive open souce community. So if you've got any issues, or problems or questions you
post it up and other programmers give you their insight. And I think it's really good for that.
Um, there were other options we could have gone with. Or we could have tried to build it totally from scratch. I think in hindsight (it's) probably been the best tool to start with.

How is Disqo different to other educational sites?

The biggest thing is the ... I haven't been able to find any other, any other site really yet, that, ah, allows, um, teachers to, ah, use those, other people's lessons as, as direct building blocks in the same way that, that Disqo, Disqo can. Um, certainly nothing that, nothing that's free and source.

Have you been inspired by other sites?

A whole bunch, yeah.
Yeah, um, I mean, Wikipedia is the biggest one. What it's managed to do is ... is phenomenal. And, um, it's inspirational because, well to me, because
there's just obviously so many people that are out there willing to give their time, and their knowledge for, for nothing, just for, just for kicks. And that's the same on Drupal and lots of different, you know, community websites out there. People want to give something and um ... Disqo sort of facilitates that for teachers.

Is Disqo only in English?

For now it's just in English, but we really hope to obviously broaden that out to, to other languages as soon as possible.
But again, that'll have to be something that's volunteer. Like, the whole site will be basically run by a volunteer, um, community.
We've basically set up the, the superstructure, and ... or the scaffolding. And we're hoping that other people will fill up the, the meat of it.



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artist: Kevin MacLeod
track: The Jazz Woman
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artist: ioeo
album: triptracks
track: triptrack2
from: Saint Raphael, France
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album: Beta Release
track: Improject Two
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artist at Jamendo
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