Week Beginning 6th June 2016

Last week I started to redevelop the old STELLA resource ‘The Basics of English Metre’ and I spent much of this week continuing with it.  The resource is split into three sections, each of which feature a variety of interactive exercises throughout.  Last week I made a start on the first exercise, and this week I made quite a bit of progress with the content, completing the first 12 out of 13 pages of the first section.  As with the previous STELLA resources I redeveloped, I’ve been using the jQueryMobile framework to handle the interface and jQuery itself to handle the logic of the exercises.  The contents of each page are stored in a JSON file, with the relevant content pulled in and processed when a page loads.  The first exercise I completed required the user to note the syllable boundaries within words.  I was thankfully able to reuse a lot of the code from the ARIES app for this.  The second exercise type required the user to choose whether the syllables in a word were strongly or weakly stressed.  For this I repurposed the ‘part of speech’ selector exercise type I had created for the Essentials of English Grammar app.  The third type of exercise was a multi-stage exercise requiring syllable identification for stage 1 and then stress identification for stage 2.  Rather than just copying the existing code from the other apps I also refined it as I know a lot more about the workings of jQueryMobile than I did when I put these other apps together.  For example, with the ‘part of speech’ selector the different parts of speech appeared in a popup that appeared when the user pressed on a dotted box.  After a part of speech was selected it then appeared in the dotted box and the popup closed.  However, I had previously set things up so that a separate popup was generated for each of the dotted boxes, which is hugely inefficient as the content of each popup is identical.  With the new app there is only one popup and the ID of the dotted box is passed to it when the user presses on it.  This is a much better approach.  As most of the remaining interactive exercise are variations on the exercises I’ve already tackled I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make fairly rapid progress with the rest of the resource.

Other than working on the ‘Metre’ resource I communicated with Jane Stuart Smith, who is currently putting a new proposal together.  I’m not going to be massively involved in it, but will contribute a little so I read through all of the materials and gave some feedback.  Bill Kretzschmar is also working on a new proposal that I will have a small role in too, so I had an email chat with him about this too.  I also completed a second version of the Technical Plan for the proposal Murray Pittock is currently writing.  The initial version required some quite major revisions due to changes in how a lot of the materials will be handled, but I think we are now getting close to a final version.

I also spent a little bit of time working with some of the Burns materials for the new section and gave a little bit of advice to a colleague who was looking into incorporating historical maps into a project.  I also fixed a couple of bugs with the SciFiMedHums ‘suggest a new bibliographical item’ page and then made it live for Gavin Miller.  You can suggest a new item here: http://scifimedhums.glasgow.ac.uk/suggest-new-item/ (but you’ll need to register first).  Finally, I continued processing the Hansard data using the ScotGrid infrastructure.  By the end of the week 200 of the 1200 SQL files had been processed, resulting in more than 150,000,000 rows.  I’ll just keep these scripts running over the next few weeks until all of the data is done.  I’m not sure than an SQL database is going to be quick enough to actually process this amount of data, however.  I did a simple ‘count rows’ query and it took over two minutes to return an answer, which is a little worrying.  It’s possible that after all of the data is inserted I may then have to look for another solution.  But we’ll see.