WICKET or … How I Learned to Love Databases!

or …
How I Learned to Love Databases!

What exactly is WICKET? What is it used for? Has it always been used? Why is it called … WICKET?

Excellent questions! And this will be a short history of why The CALL Facility currently uses a UVic created application (many authors/coders!) to basically keep track of student attendance!

The CALL Facility opened in the Fall of 1989. I was hired shortly afterwards and started in early October of that year. I am paraphrasing but from what I mostly remember (old RAM still installed!), the intent was to have a state of the art Language Learning facility that all Humanities Departments (and thus Languages!) could use to enhance language learning for students. Other future objectives included research, conferences and inter-departmental sharing of successful (and not so successful!) ideas and strategies. 

And to include usage of The CALL Facility as a course requirement, a system of recording attendance was needed. Just like a Biology class has a corresponding Biology Lab, Instructors needed a way to keep track of attendance! So many different methods have been used including, but not limited to:

  1. Registration Card with hand written records on the back
  2. Smaller ‘library cards’ which recorded resource usage
  3. Printed student logs (MANY) in binders (MANY)
  4. Mac version on a Macintosh SE (Quite cool actually!)
  5. Visual Basic version on a DOS/WIN machine
  6. WICKET as it (mostly) exists now, with a variety of authors, codes and versions, most recently Patrick and Adam!

Each ‘version’ had unique advantages and disadvantages at the time. But the disadvantages always meant crafting a new version to handle eiteher increased student usage, growing AND CHANGING resources (digital and analog), increased reporting back to Instructors as well as a newer emphasis on providing full security for personal information.

The latest version allows CHD staff to not only record student attendance, even with multiple courses, but location as well. Why? At a glance, WICKET displays how busy CALL really is and then staff can make a better decision where to place a student for either privacy, group work, table work, reservations for specific use (TAs) or an available favourite spot for a student! We are literally doing (at least!) three things at once:

  1. Air Traffic Controller/Maître D’ – ‘landing’ students to an open ‘runway’ and reserving stations for multiple purposes – Spanish Tutorial Assistants, Whiteboards, Audacity recordings, etc. Or, just put them at a window seat for their Spanish soup du jour!
  2. Librarian – providing knowledge of resources in CALL that the student probably doesn’t even know we have .. or .. THAT THEY NEED!
  3. Help Desk – updating and maintaining all the dual-boot computers as well as providing assistance with their own computers too, if they bring them in! AND HELP DESK SUPPORT TOO! So that is like … 3A!

Below is a layout (not current, but descriptive) of what CALL has looked like in the past, complete with locations, numbers, tables, etc. One Consultant can facilitate students, resources, usage and communication from behind the Front Counter! Okay, that is in theory!

Practically, the vast majority of assistance is available right at the Front Counter. But things happen and then we spring into action to help students and Instructors in CALL, as well as around the corner in CLE-LF hallway in rooms CLEA 030, 031 and 035 or anywhere else that we are needed!

A much more robust intro to WICKET as well as the history of CALL and my first ever CHD Training PowerPoint is located below. Just click on the CHD Workshop image and you will go to a comprehensive post of ALL the CHD Training Sessions – aka CALL:Jeopardy training sessions, all in .pdf format, which work in any browser, or can be exported in .pdf format too.

AND HUGE THANKS TO PATRICK AND ADAM who have always helped me out when WICKET has crashed, needed database updating or just listened while I described the weird stuff that sometimes happens in WICKET! I usually call those things – Undocumented Features! Thanks guys! I really appreciate your help!

Oh, and why it is called WICKET? You will have to go and look at my first CHD Training module and then all will be revealed … well, mostly revealed! LOL!







Working From Home

Most, if not all of us at CHD are now working from home or will be soon.

And that likely means everyone who also works at or attends UVIC.

Hopefully, EVERYONE will be at home soon to stay safe with social distancing and/or self-isolation. Take all the necessary precautions and keep checking back at the UVIC site and with colleagues! We are all in this together.

Many thanks to EVERYONE at CHD for setting us up with UVic laptops and resources so we can do the best possible work, from home, given the circumstances.  Clicking on the banner above takes you to the UVic home page where everyone will get the most recent updates. I would hope everyone is doing that on a regular basis.

One always neglected interest for me is expanding my knowledge of blogging using OAC or The Online Academic Community at UVic. I will try to do one blog each weekday, language related, (or maybe not) either with links, information or interesting topics, just to keep the resources that might be out there, available. I believe that OAC is one of THE MOST UNDERUTILZED RESOURCES on campus, especially so for language learning, so … here goes!

One of the best CALL Facility resources over the years has been ZOHO, or also known as CALL Facility Bookmarks!

Many years ago, I added/collected the best language sites to each browser in The CALL Facility – both Mac and WIN. It rapidly grew and grew in size and time requirements, yet students wanted all the links that I was finding, or had been requested by Instructors. So I attached the bookmarks file in an email. That quickly proved too time consuming as well!

So … to make a long story short, I now use ZOHO to add new websites, either from me, Instructors or students that hopefully prove useful to students! Big shoutout to Mark vH for helping me back then! THANKS MARK!

Available anywhere, any platform, 24/7, I have literally added a new website sent to me from an Instructor, even IN PERSON as their class arrived in CALL ….. and had it posted at ZOHO before the students even logged in at their computers! Then they searched for the key word(s) given to me by the Instructor and they had the link instantly in seconds for their homework, assigment or group project.

Yes, Google could probably find it too, but … just where is it ranked? Way down low? Middle? How many different ads might pop up? Located somewhere else in the Multiverse? Good luck getting ahold of Doctor Strange or even .. The Doctor!

At ZOHO, it is right there, with the keywords and titles that the Instructor wants, not just now …. but … RIGHT NOW! Oh yeah, and it is free too! Easy to maintain as well, which is what I will task myself with in the next few days – cleaning up old websites and maybe bumping into a few new ones!

To see for yourself, you can click on either graphic above to instantly go there, or you could search at Google for the keywords “CALL Facility ZOHO Bookmarks” and … Google is your friend!

Do a search for Klingon at CALL Facility Bookmarks and see what you find – you might be surprised to even find Hobbits once roamed UVIC! And everyone knows about the Vampires at UVic, right?


Stay safe. Stay at home. Stay healthy. Everyone.

The CALL Facility … and other Mysteries of UVIC – Updated JANUARY 2020

So, what exactly IS …
The CALL Facility at UVic?
Well, here goes!


Just download the orientation .pdf below and you will get a good idea!

This post has been updated to JANUARY 2020!

CALL Facility Orientation
Fall January 2020 Version


You could also watch the “Director’s Cut” version, as a movie, too, at YouTube below (this one is for January 2020):





🎄 ☃️ Happy Holidays ☃️ 🎄

🎄 ☃️ Happy Holidays! ☃️ 🎄


And, if you made it this far …. Classic Canadian Christmas Song!

The CALL Facility … and other Mysteries of UVIC – Updated September 2019

So, what exactly IS …
The CALL Facility at UVic?
Well, here goes!


Just download the orientation .pdf below and you will get a good idea!

This post has been updated to September, 2019!

CALL Facility Orientation
Fall September 2019 Version


  ⬇️ CALL A025 ORIENTATION September 2019 ⬇️



You could also watch the “Director’s Cut” version, as a movie, too, at YouTube below:





The CALL Facility … and other Mysteries of UVIC – Updated July 2019

So, what exactly IS …
The CALL Facility at UVic?
Well, here goes!


Just download the orientation .pdf below and you will get a good idea!

This post has been updated to July, 2019!

CALL Facility Orientation
Summer July 2019 Version


  ⬇️ CALL A025 ORIENTATION July 2019 ⬇️



You could also watch the “Director’s Cut” version, as a movie, too, at YouTube below:





CHD Workshops – Jeopardy Training!

Computer Help Desk Training
CALL Facility and Jeopardy!

Saturday morning Computer Help Desk workshops are fast becoming THE TRAINING EVENT OF THE YEAR! Come for the technology upgrade, stay for the food!

Over the past few years I have created the perfect blend of technology, training and a hungry, captive (yet paid!) audience, to place them all in …. JEOPARDY!

Below are 5 PowerPoint modules to bring a wee bit of humour to our CHD Saturday morning workshops!

Just click on any of them and the .pdf will download for you! Why a .pdf? OAC does not like PowerPoint files! LOL!

CHD Workshop is actually the first one, and has a brief history of CALL, including vintage photos of CALL, The Great Flood of 2015 and a history of WICKET, the custom written database program used to track student attendance in The CALL Facility!

The others are updated versions of an original PowerPoint Jeopardy presentation created by Sherri Puentes Graveran (CHD) for a Winter Fest a few years ago!

CALL Workshop – What is CALL?

Jeopardy: CALL

Jeopardy II: CALL++

Jeopardy III: Knee-d-ful Things

Jeopardy IV: Endgame

Jeopardy V: Pop Culture

Jeopardy VI
Reboot Version


Jeopardy VII


Jeopardy VIII
(January 2021)





The CALL Facility – Original Ad for Employment – September 1989

The CALL Facility
Original Ad for Employment
September 1989

Where were you in …. 1989? What job were YOU working at! In October 1989, I had just been hired as a “Microcomputer Laboratory Assistant” to work at a newly built “Microcomputer Laboratory” – The CALL Facility at The University of Victoria! CALL had a groovy colour scheme of PINK that was part of the design to have a nice …. calming effect on students ….. and staff!! LOL!

I had never heard of this place, and they even misnamed it in the ad, below, that I responded to, as “The Language Centre Computing Facility” What the heck was that? And where was it? That was sort of accurate, but also sort of … not! I had no idea there was even a basement in Clearihue either!

My first shift, ever, was from 4pm until MIDNIGHT! I think the main reason I was hired was that I was the only applicant who actually OWNED a Macintosh computer – a Mac SE! And since there was a single, lone Macintosh, mostly for show … I got the job! LOL! And guess what! I still have that same Mac SE and … IT STILL WORKS!

If you want to see what else happened in October of 1989, just click here!

My personal fave is October 15 when Gretzky overtook Gordie Howe to become the All-Time scorer in the NHL! I once had seasons tickets to the Oilers in their first year of the NHL in 1979! But that is another story!

CALL Haiku 俳句

Windows Update? Sure!

1% done ….. updating …..