I didn’t have any pressing deadlines for any particular projects this week so I took the opportunity to return to some tasks that had been sitting on my ‘to do’ list for a while. I made some further changes to the Edinburgh Gazetteer manuscript interface: Previously the width of the interface had a maximum value applied to it, meaning that on widescreen monitors the area available to pan and zoom around the newspaper image was much less wide than the screen width and there was lots of empty, wasted white space on either side. I’ve now changed this to remove the maximum width restriction, thus making the page much more usable.
I also continued to work with the Hansard data. Although the data entry processes have now completed it is still terribly slow to query the data, due to both the size of the data and the fact that I haven’t added in any indexes yet. I tried creating an index when I was working from home last week but the operation timed out before it completed. This week I tried from my office and managed to get a few indexes created. It took an awfully long time to generate each one, though – between 5 and 10 hours per index. However, now that the indexes are in place a query that can utilise an index is now much speedier. I created a little script on my test server that connects to the database and grabs the data for a specified year and then outputs this as a CSV file and the script only takes a couple of minutes to process. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get a working version of the visualisation interface for the data up and running, although this will have to be a proof of concept as it will likely still take several minutes for the data to process and display until we can get a heftier database server.
I had a task to perform for the Burns people this week – launching a new section of the website, which can be found here: http://burnsc21.glasgow.ac.uk/performing-burnss-songs-in-his-own-day/. This section includes performances of many songs, including both audio and video. I also spent a fair amount of time this week giving advice to staff. I helped Matt Barr out with a jQuery issue, I advised the MVLS people on some app development issues, I discussed a few server access issues with Chris McGlashan, I responded to an email from Adrian Chapman about a proposal he is hoping to put together, I gave some advice to fellow Arts developer Kirsty Bell who is having some issues with a website she is putting together, I spoke to Andrew Roach from History about web development effort and I spoke to Carolyn Jess-Cooke about a proposal she is putting together. Wendy also contacted me about an issue with the Mapping Metaphor Staff pages, but thankfully this turned out to be a small matter that I will fix at a later date. I also met separately with both Gary and Jennifer to discuss the Atlas interface for the SCOSYA project.
Also this week I returned to the ‘Basics of English Metre’ app that I started developing earlier in the year. I hadn’t had time to work on this since early June so it took quite a bit of time to get back up to speed with things, especially as I’d left off in the middle of a particularly tricky four-stage exercise. It took a little bit of time to think things through but I managed to get it all working and began dealing with the next exercise, which is unlike any previous exercise type I’ve dealt with as it requires an entire foot to be selected. I didn’t have the time to complete this exercise so to remind myself for when I next get a chance to work on this: Next I need to allow the user to click on a foot or feet to select it, which should highlight the foot. Clicking a second time should deselect it. Then I need to handle the checking of the answer and the ‘show answer’ option.
On Friday I was due to take part in a conference call about Jane’s big EPSRC proposal, but unfortunately my son was sick during Thursday night and then I caught whatever he had and had to be off work on Friday, both to look after my son and myself. This was not ideal, but thankfully it only lasted a day and I am going to meet with Jane next week to discuss the technical issues of her project.