Week Beginning 16th December 2013

A very short report this week as I was on holiday on the Monday, Thursday and Friday.  This is my last week before Christmas and I will be back in the office the week beginning the 6th of January.  About half of my available time this week (i.e. a day!) was spent on the Scottish Words and Place-Names project.  I arranged with Chris to set up a temporary domain where a new version of the project website will be located until we turn the existing website off.  I also met with Carole to go through the updates to the content and structure that I will be implementing.  On Wednesday I made a start on the task of migrating the content across from the old site and setting up a new version of the Place-Name glossary.

Other than SWAP stuff, I spent a little time reviewing the documents Ann Ferguson sent as a result of the DSL meeting last week and I spent a small amount of time on Mapping Metaphor matters.  Tuesday afternoon was spent at the ‘Digital Innovations’ event arranged by Fraser Rowan and Arts Lab.  There were two main sessions, the first gave attendees the opportunity to hear from people at Glasgow Life about some of the digital developments that have been taking place across museums, archives, libraries and beyond.  It was really interesting to hear some of the things that have been going on, such as the redevelopment of their online presences, the use of apps and interactives, and the development of new resources such as the Glasgow Life photo library.  The second session gave people within the University who are involved in innovative digital projects relating to the public sector the opportunity to discuss their work, and again this was a very interesting session, with presentations from people involved in the Hunterian and the archives amongst other projects such as Mapping Metaphor.

That’s all there is to report for this year.  I’ll be back the week of the 6th.  Have a great Christmas and New Year!

Week beginning 9th December 2013

Another short week this week as I had taken Monday and Friday off as holiday.  I attended a further meeting with the SLD people in Edinburgh on Thursday to discuss the redevelopment of the Dictionary of the Scots Language.  It was a very useful meeting where we discussed both the webhosting agreement and the development of the API and the website as well.  We decided on a number of improvements and amendments to the webhosting agreement and hopefully both parties will be in a position to sign it in the next few weeks.  It was also really useful to talk to their developer, Peter Bell, again about the API.  We discussed the API requirements document that I had circulated in June and agreed on the functionality that the API should include.  Peter should hopefully be able to send me some sample output content soon as well (in JSON and XML format) and this will allow me to proceed with the development of the front end – eventually replacing these ‘stub’ output files with actual content generated from the API.

Other than preparing for and attending the DSL meeting I spent a bit of time updating various Burns related things, including updating the other ‘non-T4 but looks like T4’ Burns project that didn’t have quite the right layout or correct menus.  It can be accessed here:


I also set up a new ‘Word of the Week’ feature on the Editing Burns for the 21st Century website.  Jonathan, one of the PhD students, is going to be writing blog posts each week about a word and its usage by Burns, and the structure for this is now in place and can be viewed at the bottom of the homepage:


There were also some discussions this week about the Scottish Words and Place-Names website, which was launched in 2009 but has been exhibiting some stability problems due to the underlying architecture of the site.  It was agreed that I would spend a little time redeveloping this website, which I aim to start on next week, if I have time.

Week beginning 3rd December 2013

A bit of a late report this week as I’m using up some holiday time in the run-up to Christmas as was therefore off on Friday.  I was also ‘off’ on Tuesday this week too as it was another strike day, making it a bit of a short week for me.  This week I completed the redevelopment of the Grammar App exercises, including the ‘full analysis’ sentences.  As I had hoped, my redeveloped code worked pretty smoothly with these more complicated exercises, with the algorithms constructing exercises with multiple box types in much the same way as it handled the single box types of earlier exercises.  There were some formatting issues that needed to be addressed, though.  For example, the code was placing the function label answer boxes in a new column rather than positioning it in the same column as the bracket and form label boxes.  All this is sorted now, though.  You can view the redeveloped exercises here:


I attended a couple of meetings this week, the first being a Mapping Metaphor project meeting on Monday.  As always it was good to get an update on developments in the project, although I didn’t really have much to contribute this time as I have been focussing on other projects since the last meeting.  I will get back into the development of the visualisations after Christmas.  The second meeting was a HATII developers meeting, which as a good opportunity to talk to other developers in the College of Arts and hear about their projects and technologies.

The rest of the week (what there was of it) I spent looking into Burns related issues, specifically at a couple of small online projects that looked like they were part of T4 but weren’t actually so.  These had some broken links and were positioned within the School pages rather than within the Centre for Robert Burns Studies hierarchy and I wanted to fix these issues.  I manage to update one of them (http://www.robertburnsmemorials.arts.gla.ac.uk/) and I will update the other next week.

Week beginning 25th November 2013

This week was mostly split between Grammar App updates and the Burns project.  I mentioned last week that I was hoping to complete the updates to the Grammar App exercises this week, but I’m afraid that hasn’t been possible.  I’d forgotten just how many exercises there were (e.g. you think there is one exercise but it actually consists of 12 separate questions, each with three stages, plus the answers that contain lots of notes.  Simply getting all of this information together in the new JSON format for sentences that I’ve designed takes quite a bit of time.  What I did manage to achieve this weeks is to complete the code that can process exercises that have multiple questions and multiple stages (for example Unit 3, Form Labels 2).  The code I have developed can cope with any number of stages and any number of sentences – all that is needed is a correctly structured JSON file to be fed into it and the code does the rest, and this includes saving a user’s answers and reloading the exercise at the correct point whenever the user returns to it.   It did take a lot of time to get it all working, and there are still a couple of quirks that I’ll need to iron out (e.g. until you select an answer in a stage the code doesn’t log that you’re on that stage and will return you to the one before if you navigate away from the exercise and then return to it).

In terms of ploughing through the redevelopment of the exercises, I’m now midway through Unit 7, meaning all of the types of answers have now been covered (phrase brackets, clauses, parts of speech etc).  It’s mainly now just a matter of converting all of the remaining sentences to the new JSON format, which is rather time consuming.  I also still have the very complex ‘general exercises’ left to tackle, but I’m hoping the code I’ve already developed will be able to handle these without requiring many (if any) updates.

For the Burns project I attended three separate meetings this week.  The first was with Kirsteen and Vivien to discuss a smaller Chancellor’s Fund project that will be running over the next couple of months to do with choral arrangements of Burns songs.  We discussed how the web presence for this project should function, and decided to follow a similar approach to the Editing Burns project – a WordPress based site that will use the same download facilities to provided access to recordings of the University choir singing the arrangements.  The second meeting was the main Centre for Robert Burns Studies staff meeting, at which I discussed Jonathan’s plans for a ‘word of the week’ feature and possible visualisations showing the connections between words and authors.  The final meeting was with the new CRBS administrator James Matthew.  James wants to improve the centre’s website and I gave him some advice on how the pages and the navigation structures could be improved.

I also spent some time this week working on my application to be a technical reviewer for the AHRC, and I hope to be able to submit this next week.