Archive for the ‘Notes’ Category

Writing & Deadlines

deadlineWithout necessarily thinking about it, in January and in the last few days I’ve spent a good chunk of my time writing and writing and trying to meet certain deadlines.   Of course, most of us don’t like deadlines, although I think we all need deadlines because they can certainly help and keep us on track.  Somebody at EdTech put it this way “Deadlines can be both a blessing and a curse, deadlines force productivity, a timeline and a game plan that might otherwise go undefined.”  Anyway, part of my writings included a mid-year report for our NEH/FS project, an IMLS/Sparks proposal, a book chapter, and a couple of lines of PHP code -maybe I should have done more of this type of writing!

As for my new deadlines, we’re looking at March 30 for our FS 2.0 app beta test; I think Ann Elizabeth and I have managed to understand most of the new functionalities in the ARIS beta editor, the way it handles conversations is definitely 100% better than the previous version.  Perhaps my only complain so far, why cannot we duplicate our games?  Another set deadline is on April 27, when Marcus and I will give a talk at the 2015 Computers in Libraries Conference in Washington DC –my section will be on the ‘captioning pilot’ project we’re currently working on.  Other spring semester activities will include some on-going faculty projects, meetings and work on the MiamIdeas initiative, a couple of lectures for IMS201 on eBooks including one for Kate’s class, and some DSpace/WordPress/Omeka coding!

Lastly … sometimes I also wish there was a deadline for the PERM review process :-(

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Fall semester: first half is now over!

At the beginning of this semester, I told a couple of people that I might not survive the first half … and the main two reasons for that early thought were two projects that required some special/unknown tests/research/coding … trying to come up with a realistic deadline when the learning curve is kind of uncertain is a bit of a challenge.  However, here we’re already fully emerged into the second half and I’m pretty sure the next 5-6 weeks will go just fine!

FS game instructionsFirst of all, the Freedom Summer Game was probably my top priority in September and even though we saw all the new features in ARIS 2.0 … because of the amount of work we had in the “old” editor, it was clear that we were better off in sticking to the older version and in the end, it allowed us to develop a good understanding of how the “characters scripts” work … or how to add some HTML code for text formatting.  Anyway, this first version of the project seems to be almost done, we’ve collected some good feedback including a new/short “storyboard” version by David Gagnon, the ARIS inventor.  On my end, some of the lessons learned include: WiFi can be very tricky, therefore devices with no GPS should be excluded; eliminating extra text/buttons on the screen is a MUST; the lack of a “back” button seems to a shared/common concern among playtesters  … perhaps the good news is that some of these issues will be fixed in ARIS 2.0 … which is another reason we want to migrate to that new version -as soon as we can.  During the conference, we kind of made it official that we’ll be working on a version 2 and it should be released sometime in the spring semester … so stay tune!

In early September, we also learned that there was an opportunity to demo the Middle East Media project at an international conference in Qatar … well, something like this was definitely a good reason/excuse to finalize the “beta” version of this site.  One of the major changes was modifying the header.php file as we added a few PHP lines to check if the page being displayed is one of the new “custom taxonomy” pages or not.  Overall, this project has allowed us to test some of the functionalities that WordPress and its plugins can offer to this type of scholarly websites.

closed captioningLast, we finally have some good news for the Miami Video Captioning PILOT project, this week we’re getting ready to hire 2-3 students who will be helping us transcribe selected videos.   We’re still hoping to launch a site for this pilot project sometime around the 2015 Access For ALL Symposium.  Finally, with all the TO-DOs I had for the first half of October, it was easy to completely forget about an IFLA book chapter proposal … however, the editors were kind enough to extend the deadline for a week and now my proposal is in review :-)

Esto es todo por ahora, hasta la próxima!


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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.

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

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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¡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.


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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Summer 2013 projects

As of today, we can probably say that “summer is officially gone” and for me -and maybe for others- a valid question is: what happened to those summer projects? Well, part of the answer is: we definitely made some good progress on several projects such as the migration/upgrade to DSpace 3.0 for the University Institutional Repository and to CONTENTdm 6.x for the cultural heritage collections.

In July, I also worked on several Omeka (1.5 and 2.0) instances; perhaps the most exciting one was the “unplanned” Omeka & CONTENTdm Integration that Marcus Ladd and I worked on.  My contributions included two set of lines of code: a) PHP lines in Omeka (show.php) to retrieve the DC.Identifier value and generate a link back to CONTENTdm record and to embed an iframe with the CONTENTdm viewer; and b) JavaScript lines in CONTENTdm (fullbrowser.php) to check if the image viewer is being loaded in a regular window browser or an iframe; if it’s an iframe, then we added an extra CSS file to customize the viewer toolbar.

Speaking of CONTENTdm, the official launch for the new instance is almost there … here is a preview of the new site:
In late June, we learned that the Miami was using Kaltura to manage a portion of its videos, we looked at this service and our systems team scheduled a visit with our on-campus rep, we looked at the service and thought this would meet “all” the requirements we were looking for in our new video solution … now, we’re in the process of uploading 100+ videos; we also began a prototype of adding captions to these videos, we’re using Movie Captioner and we look forward to completing a set of videos in the next couple of months.

As for DSpace, we’re just days away to officially turn on the switch from the current hosted site to our local instance; the new interface is 80% based on the Mirage theme and perhaps the only modification (so far) was the integration of the Kaltura player using a few jQuery tricks.

  // hide default mp4 player in DSpace
  $("#aspect_artifactbrowser_ItemViewer_div_item-view #video").hide();
  // hide metadata field with Kaltura video ID
  // get Kaltura video ID
  var htmlStr = $(".simple-item-view-other-kaltura a:eq(0)").html();
  // alert(htmlStr);
  // replace video DIV with Kaltura code
  var htmlStr = $("#aspect_artifactbrowser_ItemViewer_div_item-view

For service activities, in late July the recently established Library Staff Appreciation Committee hosted a picnic and thanks to the great leadership of our coordinator -Tricia- everything went super. For the fall semester, we’ll be launching a monthly newsletter and we’ll also finalize the details for the Annual Award of the employee/s of the year. Outside of the library, I’m also coordinating the website team for the 2014 Freedom Summer Conference -this time, we’re very fortunate to have a student volunteer with some excellent graphic design skills.

And for Scholarship, in early August I -virtually- co-presented with Marcus at the 2013 CONTENTdm Users Group Meeting; our talk was on the Migration & Update to CONTENTdm 6.1, I joined them via WebEx and Marcus did an excellent job in demonstrating the Omeka/CONTENTdm integration project.  I mid August, I also co-authored a manuscript on Videos & HTML5, it’s still in review but it left us with an interesting new project on video captioning :-) … OK, that’s probably it for today, this weekend will be a good time to finalize/publish my Niihka site for the IMS 201 class -which starts on Monday!


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