Week Beginning 7th December 2015

It was a week of many projects this week, mostly working on smallish tasks that still managed to take up some time. I was involved in an email discussion this week with some of the University’s data centre people, who would like to see more Arts projects using some of the spare capacity on the ScotGrid infrastructure. This seemed pretty encouraging for the ongoing Hansard work and it culminated in a meeting with Gareth Roy, who works with the Grid for Physics on Friday. This was a very useful meeting, during which I talked through our requirements for data extraction and showed Gareth my existing scripts. Gareth gave some really helpful advice on how to tackle the extraction, such as splitting the file up into 5Mb chunks before processing and getting nodes on the Grid to tackle these chunks one at a time. At this stage we still need to see whether Arts Support will be able to provide us with the database space we require (at least 300Gb) and allow external servers (with specified IP addresses) to insert data. I’m going to meet with Chris next week to discuss this matter. At this stage things are definitely looking encouraging and hopefully some time early in the new year we’ll actually have all of the frequency data extracted.

For the Metaphor in the Curriculum project we had a little Christmas lunch out for the team on Tuesday, which was nice. On Friday Ellen and Rachael had organised a testing session for undergraduates to test out the prototype quiz that we have created, and I met with them afterwards to discuss how it went. The feedback the received was very positive and no-one encountered any problems with the interface. A few useful suggestions were made – for example that only the first answer given should be registered for the overall score, and that questions should be checked as soon as an answer is selected rather than having a separate ‘check answer’ button. I’ll create a new version of the prototype with these suggestions in place.

Hannah Tweed contacted me this week with some further suggestions for the Medical Humanities Network website, including adding facilities to allow non-admin users to upload keywords and some tweaks to the site text. I still need to implement some of the other requests she made, such as associating members with teaching materials. I should be able to get this done before Christmas, though.

Magda also contacted me about updating the Scots Thesaurus search facility to allow variants of words to be searched for. Many words have multiple forms divided with a slash, or alternative spellings laid out with brackets, for example ‘swing(e)’. Other forms were split with hyphens or included apostrophes are Magda wanted to be able to search for these with or without the hyphens. I created a script that generated such variant forms and stored them in a ‘search terms’ database table, much in the same way as I had done for the Historical Thesaurus of English. I then updated the search facilities so that they checked the contents of this new table and I also updated the WordPress plugin so that whenever words are added, edited or deleted the search variants are updated to reflect this. Magda tested everything out and all seems to be working well.

For the SCOSYA project Gary sent me the first real questionnaire to test out the upload system with. My error checking scripts picked up a couple of problems with the contents (a typo in the codes, plus some other codes that hadn’t been entered into my database yet) but after these were addressed the upload went very smoothly. I also completed work on the facilities for editing and deleting uploaded data.

During the week there were times when the majority of internet access was cut off due to some issues with JANET. Unfortunately this had a bit of an impact on the work I could do as I do kind of need internet access to do pretty much everything I’m involved with. However, I made use of the time with some tasks I’d been meaning to tackle for a while. I installed Windows 10 on my MacBook and then reinstalled all of the software I use. I also copied all of my app development stuff from my MacBook onto my desktop computer in preparation for creating the Metaphor in the Curriculum app and also for creating new Android versions of the STELLA apps that still don’t have Android versions available.

I also spent some time this week getting up to speed on the use of Oxygen, XML and TEI in preparation for the ‘People’s Voice’ project that starts in January. I also went through all of the bid documentation for this project and began to consider how the other technical parts of the project might fit together. I have a meeting with Gerry and Catriona next week where we will talk about this further.