Week Beginning 23rd February 2015

A bit of a short report this week as I was still suffering rather badly from a cold that I was struck down with last week. I had hoped I would be free from it by Monday but unfortunately it got worse not better and I really struggled to get through Monday and was then off on Tuesday and Wednesday. I managed to come back to work on Thursday but I really probably shouldn’t have as I was still full of the cold and unable to really get much in the way of meaningful work done. By Friday I was mostly ok, but was still struggling by mid-afternoon.

Anyway, despite all of that I did manage to get a few things done. On Monday we had what has turned out to be the penultimate project meeting for Mapping Metaphor before the project officially comes to an end at the end of March. I spent some time before the meeting looking at different possible screencast software that we might use to make some video tutorials for the website. The free software I’d used for a project when I was still working for HATII was Camstudio (http://camstudio.org/). It’s free, but it’s one of those free pieces of software that tries to make you install a load of unnecessary (and potentially dangerous) ‘bloatware’ at every opportunity, including dodgy ‘download’ links in the page and several ‘click yes to continue’ prompts during installation that actually install other software unless you press ‘cancel’. It’s all really quite unpleasant. I managed to get it installed and working (which required the installation of further codecs plus a Visual C++ package from Microsoft) but at the meeting Marc mentioned that the Learning and Teaching people have a license for Camtasia (http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html) which is supposedly a better piece of software (but isn’t free) so we will probably just try to use this.

I helped out with a few requests from the Burns people this week, including Pauline who needed a few tweaks to her Bawdy Chapbooks website and Gerard McKeever, who has recently started working for the ‘Editing Burns’ project. I also had email conversations with Susan Rennie and Bryony Randall about their respective projects. I spent a few hours working with Fraser Dallachy to fix a few quirks in the Historical Thesaurus’s ‘version converter’ feature. The converter wasn’t supplying results for some level 2 categories when converting from version 1 to version 4. We went through the reasons for this and eventually came up with a solution which involved adding in a small number of over-ride checks to the converter to present conversions that were not actually possible with the data we have in the database. It seems to work quite well.

I also continued with DSL redevelopment work for a little while this week. I managed to get predictive searching working with the advanced search for headwords. This is something that I’d been meaning to get working since shortly after the launch. Now when a user selects a headword search in the advanced search and then begins typing a word into the ‘word’ box the predictive search queries the API and displays a drop-down list if possible matches that the user can then select. Selecting one then automatically runs the search. This takes into consideration the ‘source dictionary’ the user has selected and the ‘match type’ too. It all appears to work fine, although for now it is only available through the development version of the site rather than the live version.

My final task of the week was to begin to look over the materials for Jane Stuart-Smith’s new ESRC bid. I can’t go into any detail about it here, but I will be helping Jane out with some of the technical aspects of the bid over the next few weeks.