Week Beginning 18th January 2016

Two new projects that I will be involved with over the coming months and years started up this week. The first one was the People’s Voice project for Catriona MacDonald and Gerry Carruthers. I will be developing a database of poems and establishing a means of enabling the team to transcribe poems using the TEI guidelines. This is a good opportunity for me to learn more about text encoding as although I’ve been involved in some text encoding projects before I’ve never had sole responsibility for such aspects. Since starting back after Christmas I’ve been getting up to speed with TEI and the Oxygen text editing tool and this week I met with the team and we had a two hour introductory session to transcription using TEI and Oxygen. I spent quite a bit of time before the session preparing a worksheet for them and getting my head around the workings of Oxygen and the workshop went very well. It was the first time some of the people had ever written any XML and everyone did very well. It will obviously take a bit of practise for them to be able to transcribe poems rapidly, but hopefully the worksheet I prepared together with the template files I’d made will allow them to get started. There is still lots to get the project up and running and we will be meeting again in the next few weeks to get started on the database and the website, but so far things are progressing well.

The second new project I was involved with this week was Carole Hough’s REELS project (Recovering the Earliest English Language in Scotland). This project will be analysing the placenames of Berwickshire and I’ll be developing a content management system to enable the team to record all of the data. We had a project meeting this week where we went over the project timetable and discussed how and when certain tasks would start up. It was a useful meeting and a good opportunity to meet the rest of the team and we have now arranged a further, more technical meeting for next week where we will think in more detail about the requirements for the database and the CMS and things like that. I also put a request in for a subdomain for the project website and got some shared drive space set up for the project too.

As well as these two projects beginning, another project I’ve been involved with launched this week. Over the past few months I’ve been developing the technical infrastructure for a Medical Humanities Network website for Megan Coyer. This project had its official launch on Friday evening, and all went very well. The project can be accessed here: http://medical-humanities.glasgow.ac.uk/

In addition to these projects I also spent a bit of time trying to figure out what was preventing the Curious Travellers WordPress installation from connecting to external services. Using my test server I managed to fix one of the issues (the instance will now connect to the WordPress RSS feeds) but other services such as Akismet and the searching of new plugins fail to connect. The strange thing is if I copy both the database and the files for the site onto my test server external connections work, which would suggest that the problem is with the server configuration. I’ve spoken to Chris about this and he has done some investigation but as far as he can tell there is nothing at server level that is any different to other server setups. It’s all very odd and we may have to consider moving the site to a different server to see if this fixes the problem.

I also spent some time working with the Grid and preparing the Hansard data for processing on the Grid. Gareth Roy from Physics has been helping me with this and he’d sent me some instructions on how to submit a test job to the Grid before Christmas. This week I managed to successfully submit process and extract the output for my test script, which is encouraging. Gareth thought that splitting my 10Gb text file into small chunks for processing would make the most sense so I wrote a little script that split the file up, with 5000 lines per file. This resulted in about 1200 files with sizes varying from 5Mb to 16Mb, which should hopefully be relatively easy to load and process. I now have to figure out how to write a shell script that will load a file, process it and export SQL statements to another text file. I’ve never written a shell script that does anywhere near as much as this before, so it’s going to take a bit of time to get the hang of things.

My final project of the week was Metaphor in the Curriculum. We had another project meeting this week and as a result of this I added a new feature to the Mapping Metaphor website and did some further work on our prototype app. The new feature is a ‘Metaphor of the Day’ page that does what you’d expect it to: displaying a different metaphorical connection each day. You can view the feature here: http://mappingmetaphor.arts.gla.ac.uk/metaphor-of-the-day/

For the prototype I updated the structure so that the homepage of the app is now a list of links to subsections rather than just displaying the list of quizzes. This list has now been moved to a subsection. The structure is now in place to be able to add other subsections to the prototype, such as the ability to browse the metaphors and access the visualisation. As the app will need to be used without an internet connection I’m going to have to ensure that all of the data can be accessed by the app locally. For the main website the data is stored in a MySQL database and there are a bunch of AJAX calls to some PHP scripts that then generate the required HTML fragments or JSON data that the website’s Javascript then uses. For the app everything is going to have to be handled in Javascript, with the full dataset made available as JSON files. With this in mind I created some scripts that generate the JSON files I will require. In the next few weeks I will then have to figure out how to update the code to work directly with these files.