Week Beginning 18th February 2013

I seemed to work a little bit on many different projects this week.  For Burns I wrote up my notes from last week’s meeting and did a bit more investigation into timelines and Timeglider in particular.  I also noticed that there is already a Burns timeline on the new ‘Robert Burns Birthplace Museum’ website: http://www.burnsmuseum.org.uk/collections/timeline.  It looks very nice, with a sort of ‘parallax scrolling’ effect in the background.  It is however just a nice looking web page rather than being a more interactive timeline allowing users to search or focus on specific themes.

I spent a bit more time this week working on the technical plan for the follow-on project for Bess of Hardwick, although Alison is now wanting to submit this in July rather than ASAP so we have the luxury of time in which to really think some ideas through.  I’m still hoping to get an initial version of the plan completed by the end of next week, however.  I also spent a little time going over the mobile Bess interface I made as it looks like Sheffield might be about ready to implement my updates as they launch the main Bess site.

I did a little bit of research into data visualisation possibilities for the Mapping Metaphor project.  It was suggested to me that the JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit (http://philogb.github.com/jit/) might be a useful set of tools for making interactive data visualisations and I think it looks pretty promising.  Ellen sent me some sample data and I’ve started to think about how this might work.  We’ll be having a project meeting in March and it would be good to maybe have something to show at this.

I also worked a little bit more on the ICOS2014 website and responsive web design.  I’ve got a design I’m pretty happy with now that works on a wide variety of different screen sizes.  I still need some banner images to play around with but things are looking promising.

On the STELLA App front, I continued pegging away at the grammar book updates, and have now completed Section 8.  Only one section left now and then I’ll be able to move onto the exercises.  I also revisited ARIES this week.  In a previous post I explained how Christian was experiencing some issues with the exercises in IE on her work PC.  It turns out that these problems were being caused Internet Explorer’s ‘compatibility view’, which emulates IE7 to support some very old websites that use features specific to old versions of IE.  IE7 was released in 2006 and was superseded by IE8 in 2009 and as of January this year accounts for only 1% of browser usage so I don’t imagine a lot of people will encounter these problems.  It turns out IE7 uses an older version of Javascript that doesn’t support some of the features (specifically string manipulation features) that I’m using in ARIES.  For some reason Christian’s IE was set up to view ‘intranet’ sites (i.e. all .gla.ac.uk sites) in compatibility mode, which is why things weren’t working.

Once I realised what was causing the problem I could replicate it on my PC and tackle the issues.  Even though only 1% of web users still use IE7 I wanted to ensure ARIES worked on this older browser.  It took some time but I managed to update all the exercises so they work in both old and new browsers.

Also for ARIES this week I recorded Mike MacMahon speaking some words that I will use in an exercise in the spelling section of ARIES.  Users will be able to play sound clips to hear a word being spoken and then they will be asked to type the word as they think it should be spelled.  It was my first experience of the Sound Studio and Rachel Smith very kindly offered to show me how everything worked.  On Friday we did the recordings and everything went pretty smoothly.  Now I need to make the exercise and embed the sound files!

Also this week I attended a HATII developers meeting.  This was a chance for the techy people involved in digital humanities projects to get together to discuss their projects and the technologies they are using.  Chris from Arts Support was also there and it was really useful to hear from the other developers.  It is hoped that these meetings will become a regular occurrence and will be expanded out to all developers working in DH across the university.  We should also be getting a mailing list set up for DH developers, and also a wiki or other such collaborative environment.  I also pointed people in the direction of the new DH at Glasgow website and asked people to sign up to this as technical experts.

Finally this week I did a little bit more work with the data Susan Rennie sent me for the Scots Glossary project that we are putting together.  I made some updates to the technical documentation I had previously sent her and mapped out in more detail a data schema for the project.

I’m on holiday on Monday and Tuesday next week but will be back to it next Wednesday.

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