Week Beginning 4th November 2019

I spent much of my time this week continuing with updates to the SCOSYA website ahead of the launch later this month.  This included adding in introductory text in several places, creating new buttons and a new homepage, writing a privacy page for the site and adding in a cookie banner.  I also created a new ‘contact us’ form using the ‘Contact Form 7’ plugin for WordPress.  I used this as we wanted to ensure the form had a ‘Captcha’, a test that must be completed before the form is submitted in order to separate out spam bots from real people.  The plugin uses Google’s ‘reCAPTCHA’ server, which previously presented users with an ‘I am not a robot’ button and additional tests if the user wasn’t already somehow known to Google.  However, a new version of reCAPTCHA has now been released which does all of the checking in the background and isn’t in any way visible to the user.  This seemed ideal, but what it means is that Google now checks the user’s interactions on every single page of the site in order to ascertain whether they are a valid user if they choose to fill out the contact form.  Worse still, Google automatically adds a ‘reCAPTCHA’ logo that hovers over the site in the bottom right corner, obscuring anything else that is put there.  It’s all horribly intrusive.  I tried reverting back to the earlier version of reCAPTCHA with its ‘I am not a robot’ button, but this no longer works with the Contact Form 7 plugin and ends up just breaking the form submission.  Instead I reluctantly returned to using the current version, and found a way to hide the badge but keep the service running (see https://stackoverflow.com/a/53986985) which apparently Google now allows you to do, so long as links to its terms of service and privacy policy are clearly displayed, which they are on the SCOSYA site.  I also met with Jennifer to discuss changes to the site and the impending launch, and spoke to Gary again about some issues that he is experiencing on his computer that no-one else is able to replicate.  I also made changes to the public atlas, renaming some of the atlas menus and updating all references to these, I updated the Google Analytics access to allow Jennifer to access the stats and changed the way attribute names are managed to allow HTML tags to be included in the CMS, and for the display of the names to no all be bold in the various front-ends, thus allowing certain words in the names to be made bold.  On Friday Gary ran a user testing session so no doubt I’ll have some further things to change next week.

Also this week I met with Corey Gibson from Scottish Literature to discuss an online bibliographical resource he would like me to help him put together for a Carnegie funded project that he’s currently running.  It was a useful meeting and we made some decisions about how the resource will function, and later in the week I put in a request to set up a subdomain for the resource.  Next week I’ll create an initial version for him.  Also this week I created a new project website for an RSE funded project that is involving English Literature for Eleanor Capaldi.  I created an initial interface and page structure and got all of the basics in place and will update this further once Eleanor gets back to me, if further changes are required.

I had a meeting with Rachel Smith about an interactive website that she is putting together with Ewa Wanat.  I’d met with Ewa about this in May but hadn’t heard anything since, but since then they have been speaking to Alistair Beith, a PhD student in Psychology, who is going to do the development work for them.  Alistair was at the meeting too and we discussed the requirements of the project, the technologies that will be used and some of the implications relating to access and file formats.  It was good to speak to another person with web development skills, and once the team has decided on a suitable subdomain for the project I’ll get things set up and give Alistair access to create the site.

I also met with my old friend and colleague Yunhyong Kim from Information Studies to try and get access to an ancient Apple computer that I had left in the building when I moved to Critical Studies.  Thankfully I could still remember the password and we managed to get it to boot up so I could set her up with a user account.  I also had some further communication with Brian McKenna from Central IT Services about the University’s App and Play Store accounts.  I have been managing these for many years now, mainly because Critical Studies was prepared to pay the subscription fees when no-one else was.  It looks like responsibility for this is now going to be taken over the IT Services, which makes sense.  I just hope it’s not going to make the process of publishing apps even more torturous than it already is, though.

Finally, on Friday I attended an ArtsLAb session on research integrity and data management plans.  This was a course that we’d tried to run several times before, but hadn’t managed to get sufficient numbers to sign up for.  This time we reduced the length of the session and we got a decent number of attendees.  I had previously spoken at such sessions, but as there was less time I suggested that it made sense to split the hour between Nigel Leask, who gave a very interesting talk about research integrity, and Matt from Research Data Management gave a great overview of data management and what researchers are required to do.  I provided some sample data management plans for the attendees to look at in their own time and it was a very useful session.