Week Beginning 25th April 2016

I was stuck down with a rather nasty cold this week, which unfortunately led to me being off sick on Wednesday and Thursday.  It hit me on Tuesday and although I struggled through the day it really affected y ability to work.  I somewhat foolishly struggled into work on the Wednesday but only lasted an hour before I had to go home.  I returned to work on the Friday but was still not feeling all that great, which did unfortunately limit what I was able to achieve.  However, I did manage to get a few things done this week.

On Monday I created ‘version 1.1’ of the Metaphoric app.  The biggest update in this version is the ‘loading’ icons that now appear on the top-level visualisation when the user presses on a category.  As detailed in previous posts, there can be a fairly lengthy delay between a user pressing on a category and the processing of yellow lines and circles completing, during which time the user has no feedback that anything is actually happening.  I had spent a long time trying to get to the bottom of this, but realised that without substantially redeveloping the way the data is processed I would be unable to speed things up.  Instead what I managed to do was add in the ‘loading’ icon to at least give a bit of feedback to users that something is going on.  I had added this to the web version of the resource before the launch last week, but I hadn’t had time to add the feature to the app versions due to the time it takes for changes to apps to be approved before they appear on the app stores.  I set to work adding this feature (plus a few other minor tweaks to the explanatory text) to the app code and then went through all of the stages that are required to build the iOS and Android versions of the apps and submit these updated builds to the App Store and the Play Store.  By lunchtime on Monday the new versions had been submitted.  By Tuesday morning version 1.1 for Android was available for download.  Apple’s approval process takes rather longer, but thankfully the iOS version was also available for download by Friday morning.  Other than updating the underlying data when the researchers have completed new batches of sample lexemes my work on the Metaphor projects is now complete.  The project celebrated this milestone with lunch in the Left Bank on Tuesday, which was very tasty, although I was already struggling with my cold by this point, alas.

Also this week I met with Michael McAuliffe, a researcher from McGill University in Canada who is working with Jane Stuart Smith to develop some speech corpus analysis tools.  Michael was hoping to get access to the SCOTS corpus files, specifically the original, uncompressed sound recordings and the accompanying transcriptions made using the PRAAT tool.  I managed to locate these files for him and he is going to try and use these files with a tool he has created in order to carry out automated analysis/extraction of vowel durations.  It’s not really an area I know much about but I’m sure it would be useful to add such data to the SCOTS materials for future research possibilities.

I also finalised my travel arrangements for the DH2016 conference and made a couple of cosmetic tweaks to the People’s Voice website interface.  Other than that I spent the rest of my remaining non-sick time this week working on the technical plan for Murray Pittock’s new project.  I’ve managed to get about a third of the way through a first draft of the plan so far, which has resulted in a number of questions that I sent on to the relevant people.  I can’t go into any detail here but the plan is shaping up pretty well and I aim to get a completed first draft to Murray next week.