Week Beginning 28th November 2022

There was another strike day on Wednesday this week so it was a four-day week for me.  On Monday I attended a meeting about the Historical Thesaurus, and afterwards I dealt with some issues that cropped up.  These included getting an up to date dump of the HT database to Marc and Fraser, investigating a new subdomain to use for test purposes, looking into adding a new ‘sensitive’ flag to the database for categories that contain potentially offensive content, reminding people where our latest stats page is located and looking into connections between the HT and Mapping Metaphor datasets.  I also spent some more time this week researching semantic web technologies and how these could be used for thesaurus data.  This included setting up an Apache Jena instance on my laptop with a Fuseki server for querying RDF triples using the SPARQL query language.  See https://jena.apache.org/ and https://jena.apache.org/documentation/fuseki2/index.html for more information on these.  I played around with some sample datasets and thought about how our thesaurus data might be structured to use a similar approach.  Hopefully next week I’ll migrate some of the HT data to RDF and experiment with it.

Also this week I spent quite a bit of time speaking to IT Services about the state of the servers that Arts hosts, and migrating the Cullen Project website to a new server as the server it is currently on badly needs upgrades and there is currently no-one to manage this.  Migrating the Cullen Project website took the best part of a day to complete, as all database queries in the code needed to be upgraded.  This took some investigation as it turns out ‘mysqli_’ requires a connection to be passed to it in many of its functions where ‘mysql_’ doesn’t, plus where ‘mysql_’ does require a connection to be passed ‘mysqli_’ has the connection and the string the other way round.  There were also some character encoding issues that were cropping up.  It turned out that these were caused by the database not being UTF-8 and the database connection script needed to set the character-set to ‘latin1’ for the characters to display properly.  Luca also helped with the migration, dealing with the XML and eXistDB side of things and by the end of the week we had a fully operational version of the site running at a temporary URL on a new server.  We put in a request to have the DNS for the project’s domain switched to the new server and once this takes effect we’ll be able to switch the old server off.

Also this week I fixed a couple of minor issues with a couple of the place-names resources, participated in an interview panel for a new role at college level, duplicated a section of the Seeing Speech website on the Dynamic Dialects website at the request of Eleanor Lawson and had discussions about moving out of my office due to work being carried out in the building.