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Educational Software Thread, Self-extracting exe package - is this a problem? in Technical; Taskmagic - should have known. The bain of our lives, it needs some serious work to make this program usable. ...
  1. #16


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    Taskmagic - should have known. The bain of our lives, it needs some serious work to make this program usable.

    Problems - our language dept use taskmagic, but they INSIST on setting taskmagic exercises as homework. They upload a taskmagic file to the VLE (which just being a text file, the students can cheat on anyway) Then none of the students can access the file because it requires taskmagic. Then I get inundated with students parents phone me up so I can explain how to install taskmagic on their shiny new mac. The best solution here is to convert all the taskmagic files to hotpotatoes (I have a script for this) and put them on the VLE as intended.

    @mlapworth PLEASE spend some time re-writing this program, it COULD be REALLY good, but it is just a PiTA as it stands - it would be a really good commercial rival to hotpotatoes if you could just change the development environment.

  2. #17

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    Thanks for having a look. It works beautifully on my xp and win7 computers. It looks like I'll have to go back to leaving the content unpacked.

    Here's an example of how it looks when left unpacked. Again, no installer for this sample. (There will be for the main program.) You can run the exe from anywhere as long as you (a) have unzipped it and (b) maintain the file/folder structure
    TaskMagic3 Spanish Sample Unit - En la cafeterķa - Free download - taskmagic's posterous

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    Hmm... well, I'd like to say "thank you", but...

    Version3 files are not text files. They have text, audio and images embedded into one binary file. Your script wouldn't convert them to hotpot files.
    If you seriously see TM and hotpot as offering something similar to language teachers, then I think you are really missing the point.
    I know what you mean about Mac compatibility. That is a BIG shame. Perhaps the answer would be for students not to set the exercises as compulsary homework. It is much better used in class either with an IWB or in IT rooms. That said, students who DO install TM at home (which is completely free) will get a far better learning experience, much more games, much more language repetition than they would with hotpots.
    BUT there are lots of other tools out there, many of them free, that will create web-based or flash exercises that can be used along with a VLE. As I said, TaskMagic is primarily intended to be used in school.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mlapworth View Post
    Hmm... well, I'd like to say "thank you", but...

    Version3 files are not text files. They have text, audio and images embedded into one binary file. Your script wouldn't convert them to hotpot files.
    If you seriously see TM and hotpot as offering something similar to language teachers, then I think you are really missing the point.
    I know what you mean about Mac compatibility. That is a BIG shame. Perhaps the answer would be for students not to set the exercises as compulsary homework. It is much better used in class either with an IWB or in IT rooms. That said, students who DO install TM at home (which is completely free) will get a far better learning experience, much more games, much more language repetition than they would with hotpots.
    BUT there are lots of other tools out there, many of them free, that will create web-based or flash exercises that can be used along with a VLE. As I said, TaskMagic is primarily intended to be used in school.
    The problem is one of mission creep. If it's used just in school it is fine - but teachers do want to encourage teaching and learning outside the classroom and it makes sense that their resources are usable for students at home, in libraries and on a bunch of equipment that you wouldn't make taskmagic run on. It's the reason WHY schools have VLE's and major companies are putting resources into making educational apps run on VLE's.
    Were only on version 2. I'm really discouraging an upgrade. Infact if it was centrally procured it wouldn't have been bought at all as it doesn't meet the colleges IT vision of making educational resources available to all students at all times on a ubiquity of platforms. I think you need to up your game - spend less time learning how to package things and a bit more time on learning HTML5.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    The problem is one of mission creep. If it's used just in school it is fine - but teachers do want to encourage teaching and learning outside the classroom and it makes sense that their resources are usable for students at home, in libraries and on a bunch of equipment that you wouldn't make taskmagic run on. It's the reason WHY schools have VLE's and major companies are putting resources into making educational apps run on VLE's.
    Were only on version 2. I'm really discouraging an upgrade. Infact if it was centrally procured it wouldn't have been bought at all as it doesn't meet the colleges IT vision of making educational resources available to all students at all times on a ubiquity of platforms. I think you need to up your game - spend less time learning how to package things and a bit more time on learning HTML5.
    So you're basically against it because it's a Windows program... That's it.

    Thank you for your constructive advice.

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    I've been using Taskmagic version 1 and 3 and have issues running a silent unattended install through our usual deployment systems. By creating another process for the extractor you will mess up timings and dependencies, the deployment system thinks the program has finished installing when it hasn't because it isn't aware of the file extraction. In the end I've hard coded a timer to wait for 3 minutes to make sure that everything goes through. By using silent self extractors you also risk triggering anti-virus events if some malicious code decides to start using the same extraction techniques that you are using. Add to this that comdlg32.ocx is constantly unregistering itself when Windows Updates install so the program can't run correctly most of the time anyway.

    I'll just echo the above comments, I really think you should update your development environment. The program is worth the effort, you can tell that when you see staff and students using it, but there are technical factors dragging it down. If you had this working in a web browser and could demo it to some people on an iPad you would make a fortune.

  7. Thanks to morganw from:

    mlapworth (4th October 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by mlapworth View Post
    So you're basically against it because it's a Windows program... That's it.

    Thank you for your constructive advice.
    I'm telling you the problems that our teachers are experiencing with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mlapworth View Post
    So you're basically against it because it's a Windows program... That's it.

    Thank you for your constructive advice.
    I think the problem is that the way the program is used in schools requires a lot of file trading both internally and externally. Having it as a Windows only programs makes this process a lot harder for everyone involved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by morganw View Post
    I've been using Taskmagic version 1 and 3 and have issues running a silent unattended install through our usual deployment systems. By creating another process for the extractor you will mess up timings and dependencies, the deployment system thinks the program has finished installing when it hasn't because it isn't aware of the file extraction. In the end I've hard coded a timer to wait for 3 minutes to make sure that everything goes through. By using silent self extractors you also risk triggering anti-virus events if some malicious code decides to start using the same extraction techniques that you are using. Add to this that comdlg32.ocx is constantly unregistering itself when Windows Updates install so the program can't run correctly most of the time anyway.

    I'll just echo the above comments, I really think you should update your development environment. The program is worth the effort, you can tell that when you see staff and students using it, but there are technical factors dragging it down. If you had this working in a web browser and could demo it to some people on an iPad you would make a fortune.
    This is not for the TaskMagic program, but a separate standalone program based on TaskMagicPlay but with content included.

    Thanks for your comments. Thanks for the positives about teacher and student use of TaskMagic. I agree that it's worth updating, and this will happen. But for now, I just had this question about whether or not to use the self-extractor for this finished standalone program (NOT - I get the message), and then it got nasty...

  11. #25


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    Quote Originally Posted by mlapworth View Post
    and then it got nasty...
    I didn't mean to be nasty about it - just we do have significant issues with file compatibility and our SLT really want problems like this to be resolved. Looking forward to future versions for our androids

  12. Thanks to CyberNerd from:

    mlapworth (4th October 2011)

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