Web stuff, accessibility and games!

I believe the words in the title of this post are good terms/tags to describe what my summer was “all” about -at least when I was on campus :-)

web developmentIn the world of websites, I spent a couple of weeks finalizing our new responsive Scholarly Commons site, which is one of the latest contributions by @mire.  On top of the required CSS edits for the look-and-feel, two tweak examples included: adding a submit option in the drop-down menu for logged in users and re-embedding a video player from Kaltura.  As a new member of the library’s web team, I also welcomed the opportunity to start doing some work in Drupal, my main contribution was with a new content type for items (hardware) that we check out.  And in July, I devoted most of my time to the WordPress’ MEM project, it was a bit confusing but we believe we now have the “taxonomy” requirement under control.  The “aha moment” was I learned that new URLs for browsing taxonomies require a re-save of the “permalinks” even if you don’t change anything on the permalinks settings … wish I knew this before :-(

In July, we also learned that our 5K Tech Fee proposal for a Miami Video Captioning PILOT project was awarded and soon we’ll hire 2-3 students to help us transcribe some videos.  The ultimate goal is to evaluate a model that can allow us create more accessible videos and make them available in existing systems (e.g. Kaltura and Niihka) in an affordable and efficient way.  One of our student assistants has been a big help over the summer and we look forward to getting started with this.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt to know that now there is an institutional agreement with 3PlayMedia -we definitely plan to use their service for the text and video sync process.  Our current example is available at http://vimeo.com/99351098

ARISLast but not least, the NEH grant project -AKA as the An Interactive Quest for Social Justice- has also taken a good chunk of time.  It’s been a great experience and we’re lucky to have a group of students who have been extraordinarily helpful in producing a design document … and in implementing/testing the game in ARIS.  It’s also good to have the ARIS experts in the consulting team, the two hangouts we’ve had with them have been productive and we look forward into getting some extra help in early September.  Perhaps my only complain is with time and Google, why couldn’t we/they wait for the new ARIS 2.0 editor? Why did Google have to discontinue their Maps Flash API exactly now? Oh well, I guess that’s part of the excitement in late 2014.

Finally, this week also seemed as a good start for my new IMS 201 class, and apparently teaching at 9am can actually help me have more productive days … just hope it continues like that … hasta pronto!

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CONTENTdm, Mirage 2 Theme and e-book project

In late April, we officially launched a redesigned and upgraded website for the Library’s Digital Collections; the new system is running on CONTENTdm 6.6 and three of the many new features include: a) a better image viewer for jpg, jp2 and tiff files; b) a page-by-page viewer/download for PDF files; and c) a more friendly web interface for customizing the site’s look-and-feel.  Also, our colleagues in Special Collections have added a couple of new collections including my favorite one: Studio 14.

MUL Digital Collections

In May, we also began to evaluate/test the new Mirage 2 Theme for the Scholarly Commons repository and  the new responsive theme seems to work nicely with DSpace 3.0 … as much as we liked our own Mobile Theme, it was very hard to resist the temptation of using a fully responsive website … of course, there is still some changes we need to implement … but overall, this is a great improvement for the DSpace community –thanks a lot @mire! … now we just need to have a friendly Author’s Profile module and many of us will be more than happy.

ePUBAnd on the very last working day of May, Jason Michel and I had the opportunity to present at the 2014 OVGTSL Conference in Athens, OH and talk about the ebook project we’ve been working on in the last year or so.  BTW: the revised version of the DWAE book is currently in its final review and very soon people will be able to download the ePUB or MOBI versions on the book’s website.  In case someone is interested, check this file with our slides.

As for the next two months, my to-do list includes at least six projects:

  • NEH/FS grant, assist in prototyping/designing version 1.0 of the FS game
  • DLP, update browse functions and add content from Spring 2014
  • MEM, dynamically generate browse pages for categories
  • Book companion website, develop a first prototype
  • FS documentary, develop a first web design and start testing templates
  • Book chapter, coordination final submission before 6/30

… y hacer tiempo para el “mundial de fút” :-)

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Spring time and some good news!

As the spring weather has finally arrived … this is probably also a good time to share some project updates and good news that have happened in the last few weeks.  First of all, in late March we learned that our NEH grant proposal was awarded … this project will prototype a location-based game that interprets the Mississippi Summer Project on the site of the 1964 orientation at Western College for Women -now part of Miami University.  For me, it’s also good to be part of some other Freedom Summer initiatives such as the FS Conference website and a companion site for a FS Documentary led by Kathy Conkwright.
FS-2014-conference

Another project that is coming well along is our “long-waited” launch of the CONTENTdm 6.x website … some of the latest updates include: updating the URL pointers for video files and adding a few PHP lines in the “showLink” file as we’re now using the Kaltura hosted/streaming server for the mp4 files; modifying the header div was also necessary for adding a permanent logo/link to our main site and at the same time maintain the ability to add custom headers to individual collections using the web interface.  It’s also nice that now we have Marcus Ladd actively helping us with the web customization.  So in the next few days, check for this new header at http://digital.lib.miamioh.edu/
MUL-DC

Another interesting and recent event was the Access for All Symposium that took place here in King Library just last Friday.  To me the highlight was the session on Video Captioning … the presenter showed us how to add captions to YouTube videos either by using the YouTube interface or the Amara website.  I’m personally partial to this topic and I’m happy to know that one of our students here in the lab is actually helping us prototype our first captioned videos … and if we get that small grant mmmm we may be able to do a bit more.  And speaking of accessibility and user friendly interfaces, for the MEM project, we’re also making some good progress, today was a good day for setting up the new theme … it looks like the next big challenge would be to implement a simple/accessible html toolbar in the submission form, potential plugins are listed on this page: 10 Best WYSIWYG Text and HTML Editors.

Last but not least, in mid march I had the pleasure to send some thank you notes to people, who helped me and played an important role in my first 5-6 years here at Miami.  In one of those emails, I came across DeEtta Jone’s updated website and I had a good time browsing the site and was reminded of the type of person and speaker that she is.  Finally, on April 1st I also managed to complete and submit my manuscript on IR platforms at US undergraduate institutions :-)

nos vemos!

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Project UPDATES!

As we officially end the second (cold) month of 2014, below is a list of some interesting project updates:

A couple of weeks ago, we finally launched the Digital Literacy Partnership website.  This project -led by Valerie Ubbes- promotes the contributions of literacy, health, and technology on learning; it runs on three Omeka and interdisciplinary databases and content include print and electronic materials for children, youth, and adults.  For me, it’s been an opportunity to install/customize some Omeka plugins using PHP and jQuery.
DLP at Miami University
The simple search function is one piece that still requires some extra work, I see this as a summer project and who knows -the solution could even become a candidate for a new Omeka plugin.

For a Middle East Media project, we have switched from Omeka to WordPress -YES, learning and investigating what works and what does not work is also part of the consulting process of our work.  Anyway, it seems like the Really Simple Guest Post Plugin is what we need for the student submissions, and for the professors review, the Post Meta Plugin will be enough.  Of course, we still need to hack the PHP code to make it work for the MEM project, but we’re definitely better off using WordPress.

Other project updates include: this month (after 2 years) we officially joined the Flickr Commons, according to some of my colleagues, the number of visits has just dramatically increased; For the CAWC Lecture Series, we’re now working on the second batch of videos, we anticipate an official launch later this semester; for my paper on IR platforms, I’ve been learning quite a lot and cannot wait to see the final outcome of this study; and speaking of papers, this month I’m again reviewing an article for RIB.

Last, as part of the promotion and tenure approval process … in early February I was invited to represent the libraries and attend the Miami’s Board of Trustees meeting where they officially approved everyone being promoted or tenured.  And just last week, I got a copy of entire promotion package … mmmm, it was a lot of work and I do need to send a thank you note to a bunch of people, especially my reviewers!  Perhaps the only bad news this month is that -for my GC app- I still need to wait a few (~7) more months before I can truly celebrate this promotion.

That’s it for now … time to get ready for another cold weekend and March should be a warmer month :-)

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¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

It’s now Monday, January 6, and I was supposed to be back on campus … but the extremely cold weather conditions forced/convinced me to stay home and here I’m starting a new year with some early notes for 2014.  Last year was quite successful and busy, the debut of the Center for Digital Scholarship allowed us to start working on more intentional collaborative work with faculty … among our first examples are: a new website for the Digital Literacy Partnership project with V. Ubbes, a digital archive for the CAWC lecture Series with MJ Berman, an e-book project on Digital Composition with H MacKee, and an NEH grant proposal with AE Armstrong and B de Schutter … as with most projects, what we’ve accomplished so far is a good start and it exemplifies what can be done, but if we want to do more … then time and resources will be part of what we’ll need … and this is where writing some grant proposals seems to be part of my to-do list for the first semester of this year.

Writing grant proposals and articles for publication can be fun, engaging and very rewarding  –but I have to say that from time to time, I do wonder what if I can spend more time writing “pure code” … oh well, this is one of the ongoing dilemmas I have whenever I try to plan for a new year.  On one hand, finding the right balance between writing code and the other type of writing can be a bit tricky; on the other hand, my 2013 dossier definitely looked better when I had some decent entries in each type of writing.

2014

Bottom line -and at least for now- my current plan for this new year will include: writing 2-3 articles, the first one is currently in progress and due in about two months; 1-2 grant proposals, one of which is also due in late February; help deploy a DSpace 4.0 instance and decipher/customize the JSPUI new interface; get back to some Drupal development and help with the library website redesign; get a better understanding of the bootstrap framework; work and maybe publish a plugin for Omeka or WordPress; and also wait about some very important paperwork decisions later this year :-(

For now, this is it, stay warm and felicidades!

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