Week Beginning 1st October 2012

I split this week primarily between four projects:  The SCOTS Corpus, the Open Corpus Workbench, the STELLA desktop applications and the Disability Studies Network, a project being run by two PhD students in English Literature.

Last week I met with Marc and Wendy to discuss some legacy issues with the SCOTS Corpus when running it in Chrome and modern versions of IE, and this week I began testing things out.  The main problem relates to the advanced search page, and would appear to be a Javascript issue.  Certain page elements have their display property set to ‘none’ within the HTML of the search page, and during page load some Javascript executes, initialising things like the Google map pane.  After everything is initialised Javascript then overrides the ‘display:none’ and makes the elements visible.  Only in Chrome and IE this last step isn’t being reached.  I’ve asked IT Support for access to the SCOTS server but they are still waiting for a port to be opened to allow me access.  Once this has been done I’ll try to find the cause of the problem.  Rather strangely, the advanced search page is working fine in my desktop version of IE9 yet fails to work in Wendy’s version, even though we are both running the same version number on Windows 7!

A couple of weeks ago Marc and I met with Stephen Barrett who is doing some corpus work for a project in Celtic. An outcome of this was to ask IT Support for a test server where we could install the Open Corpus Workbench (http://cwb.sourceforge.net/) and this week IT Support delivered.  I spent quite a bit of time this week installing the Open Corpus Workbench software and its dependencies on this server.  Setting up the back end software for the corpus was relatively straightforward once dependencies such as Perl packages and a C compiler had been installed, but some issues were encountered when installing the PHP based front end for the workbench, which took some time to investigate.  It turned out to be a database privileges problem – the system requires ‘Grant all’ privileges for the database it will use and this had not been selected for the database in question.  After that was resolved the front end appeared to work.  However, there is still a lot to be done in terms of customisation and configuration.  I attempted to get the Dickens test corpus working through the front end but attempting to install it resulted in errors, specifically “Pre-indexed corpora require s-attributes text and text_id!!”, which is a bit odd as I would have expected the test corpus provided through the CWB website to be in a format that would allow it to work in the front end without any further tweaking.  I still need to investigate this further.

After completing some mock-ups of an App and a Website version of the STELLA resource ‘ARIES’ last week, this week I created mock-ups for English Grammar: An Introduction. The exercises in this desktop application are very complex and text heavy and it took quite a while to come up with an app solution that would not require the user to type in lots of text.  I’m quite pleased with the mock-ups I’ve created and I think they should cover most of the eventualities the original desktop based application throws up.

My final main project of the week was the Disability Studies Network.  I met with Christine Ferguson and two of her PhD students who currently run a WordPress hosted blog for the Disability Studies Network.  They are wanting the blog to be migrated to the University of Glasgow domain to give it a more official feel and I ran through a few options with them in collaboration with Matthew Barr from the School of Humanities, who had spoken to them initially.  I agreed to set up a blog within the University domain, to apply the UoG WordPress theme that David Beavan had previously created (and modify it where necessary) and to migrate all of the content across.  I am about half-way through this task and aim to have everything ready for the students to use by the end of next week.

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