Week Beginning 13th April 2015

I was off for Easter last week and spent a lovely, sunny week visiting family in Yorkshire. Upon returning from this relaxing week I got stuck into a few projects, the first of which was SAMUELS. At the final project meeting before Easter Fraser was given a hard drive with the complete Hansard data on it – a 40Gb tar.gz file. I got this off Fraser with a view to extracting the data and figuring out exactly what it contained and just what I would need to do with it. Unzipping the file took many hours and resulted in a tar file that was approaching 200Gb in size. Unfortunately, although the unzipping process appeared to complete successfully when I attempted to ‘de-tar’ the file (i.e. split it up into its individual files) my zip program just gave an error message about the archive being unreadable. I repeated the extraction process, which took many more hours, but alas, the same error was given. I had a meeting with Marc and Fraser on Tuesday and Marc said he’d try to extract the files on his computer so I handed the hard drive over. I haven’t heard anything back from Marc yet but fingers crossed he has managed to make some progress. What I really need is a new desktop PC that has more storage and processing power as I’m currently rather hampered by the hardware I have access to.

The Tuesday meeting with Marc and Fraser was primarily to discuss the Thesaurus of Old English (TOE). There is an online version of this resource which is hosted at Glasgow, but it really needs to be redeveloped along the lines of the main HT website and we discussed how we might proceed with this. I would very much like to get a reworked TOE website up and available as soon as possible to complement the HT website and Marc is of the same opinion. As there is a big Anglo-Saxon conference being held in Glasgow in August (http://www.isas2015.com/) Marc would really like the new TOE to be available for this, alongside the Old English metaphor map which I will be working on in June. We agreed that Marc and Fraser would work on the underlying data and will try to get it to me in the next week or so and I will then adapt the scripts I’ve already created for the HT to work with this data. Structurally the data from each thesaurus are very similar so it shouldn’t be too tricky a task.

One item that has been sitting on my ‘to do’ list for a long time is to redevelop the map interface of the SCOTS corpus website. This was an aspect of the site that I didn’t update significantly when I revamped the SCOTS website previously but I always intended to update it. I’ve updated the map to use the current version of the Google Maps API (version 3). The old map used version 2, which Google no longer supports. Google still allow access to version 2 (they actually migrate calls to version 2 to version 3 at their end), but this facility could be switched off at any time so it’s important that we moved to version 3. I updated the map so that it displays a map rather than satellite images – I decided that being able to see placenames and locations would be more useful that seeing the geography.  I’ve also removed options to switch from map to satellite and to view street view as these don’t really seem necessary.

I’ve styled the map to make it different from a standard Google map. The map is coloured so that water is the same colour as the website header and land masses are grey. I’ve also set it so that road markings, stations and businesses are not labelled to avoid clutter. I’ve also added a ‘key’ to the info-box on the right by default so people can tell what the icons mean. This gets replaced by document details when a ‘show details’ link is pressed. I was originally intending to replace the icons used on the map with new ones but I think on the grey map the icons still look pretty good. The new version of the map can be found here: http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/advanced-search/

I also updated some favicons (the little icons used in browser table) used by a few sites this week. I’d noticed that the Mapping Metaphor icon I had created looked really blocky and horrible on my iPad and realised that higher resolution favicons were required for this site, plus SCOTS and CMSW. I found a website that can create such icons rather nicely (http://www.xiconeditor.com/) and created some new and considerably less pixilated favicons. Much better!

I also spent a bit of time on DSL duties, updating the front end of the ‘dev’ version so that it worked nicely with Peter’s newly released Boolean search functionality. It is now possible to use Boolean keywords AND, OR and NOT, but if these words were found at the beginning or the end of a search string they resulted in an HTTP error being returned. I’ve now added in a check that strips out such words. I also made another couple of tweaks to the search results browser. Once these updates have been approved by Ann I will update the ‘live’ site.

The remainder of the week was mostly spent with Essentials of Old English (EOE). I’ve been meaning to update this ageing and slightly broken website (see http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/stella/OE/HomePage.html) for some time but other work commitments have taken priority. As I’m awaiting the Hansard data for SAMUELS it seemed like a good opportunity to make a start, plus I think it would be great to have this resource available before ISAS in August too. The old website uses Java applets for the exercises, which is a bit of a pain as most modern browsers recognise Java applets as major security risks these days and refuse to run them without a lot of customisation. It took an hour or so just to get my browser to open the exercises, and even then I’m having trouble getting some of the ‘Plus’ exercises to display. However, I came across the uncompiled Java source files in a directory on the STELLA server so these should be some help.

I’m creating an ‘app’ version of EOE that will sit alongside the three other STELLA apps I’ve previously created, so visually this new app fits in with the previous ones. So far I’ve managed to complete the ‘Basic’ book, the glossary and the ‘about’ pages, leaving the ‘Plus’ book and all of the exercises still to do. You can view a work in progress version here: http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/STELLA/apps/eoe/ (Note that this is URL may cease to function at any time).

I hope to be able to find the time to continue with this app next week, although I have a few meetings and other commitments that might limit how much I can do.