Almost six years & Dossier!

Dossier - LARPSThis month, as I worked on the final edits of my Dossier for Continuing Contract and Promotion, I was reminded that it’s been almost six years since I joined Miami University.  Of course, another reminder took place in early June when ESGO finished 6th grade :-) -anyway, the final edits of a dossier can be tricky, on one hand, there is a page limit so one must be careful in what to include and how to describe each entry; on the other hand, every piece of information must be self-explanatory (and answer the so-what factor) –which would be helpful to the personnel committee and external reviewers.  As for how good I did with my own document … mmmmm … I guess we’ll find out in the next few months.  Another piece that I also enjoyed working on was the supplemental materials’ site.

Now, in preparation for the next academic year -or maybe for the next six years- the rest of this summer is a mix of several exciting activities such as:

  • Digital Collections, in June I spent a good amount of time trying to “decipher” the back-end files for CONTENTdm 6.1; for instance, replacing the homepage section was a bit of a challenge.  But on the positive side, I definitely like the new image viewer and the web customization option.  The next/last major challenge for me/us will be getting the videos for two collections with proper HTML5 standards.
  • Scholarly Commons migration, in July we’ll complete a migration from a hosted to a local DSpace 3.0 instance; four new modules in our list are: discovery for search/browse, statistics, controlled vocabulary, and an enhanced mobile theme -this last one is also a candidate for a new contribution to DSpace 4.0; also, a new community in SC will be the CAWC Lecture Series digital archive.
  • Digital Literacy Partnership, after an unexpected admin error with this site, it seems like most of the web design work has been re-covered … the meeting with Valerie last week was a good confirmation that we’re -once again- almost there.  Now I just wish Omeka had a better way to export selected metadata fields.
  • Freedom Summer, besides the work with the website committee for the 2014 Conference, I’m also helping with 1-2 FS grants -one is a for NEH and one for OHS.  Grant writing is also fun -but it can be very time-consuming.
  • IMS 201, as part of the new adventure in the Fall semester, in July I also plan to finalize my syllabus for this class –which will most likely include an e-book project.  It also seems like Online Security & Privacy can be a good topic for some further discussion in class -it may even qualify for a paper!

Ok, that’s it for now … ahora mejor un poco más de la Copa Confederaciones!

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It’s ALL about DIGITAL

This week was quite special for us … on Tuesday 4/23 our new facility was officially launched.  We had a good mix of faculty, administrators and librarians attending the event, the short program included remarks by Jerome Conley, Interim Dean & University Librarian, Bobby Gempesaw, University Provost, John Millard, Head of the CDS and demonstrations of existing projects -including three with faculty.

Center for Digital Scholarship

The latest project I presented was/is developing an ebook for an upcoming book “Digital Writing: Assessment & Evaluation” edited by Heidi A McKee and Danielle N DeVoss.  For this project, Jason Michel & I converted word files into HTML, created a basic CSS file and followed a set of steps for creating zip/epub files.  We also used Calibre to create a mobi file –which worked just fine on a Kindle app.  We look forward to completing this project later this summer.

Again, we’re now open and everyone is welcome to come/visit us … a working list of the type of services that the center offers is available on our website.

Earlier this month and as part of the idea of learning from others, I attended the Second Colloquium on Digital Scholarship at Case Western Reserve University.  The purpose and focus of the presentations were to highlight that producing and supporting digital scholarship is a necessarily collaborative process.  They had seven invited presentations from consultants, faculty, and librarians.  All sessions were video recorded and will be -soon- available on their website.  Overall, this program was a good opportunity to learn about the successes and challenges that others have dealt with when working on digital scholarship projects.   For us, the just announced Office of Research for Undergraduates may bring some new/exciting collaborative opportunities.

Last but not least, last week it was also good to learn that an article on Digital Diversity that I co-authored with Jacky Johnson will be published in a double issue of the Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society.  Finally and on a different but related topic, the new book THE NEW DIGITAL AGE sounds like a ‘must’ reading for many of us :-)

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Spring Project UPDATES

CDS save-the-dateSpring is finally here and -for me- it seems to be just a good time to catch up on some notes and updates about things that have happened in the last two months as well as things that will happen in April.  Undoubtedly, many of my/our activities are driven by the upcoming Open House for our new department -scheduled for April 23rd.  This week, I helped in creating an interactive map for the CDS’ website -which is (heavily) based on an excellent example created by the Research Commons at the University of Washington.  We look forward to completing all the details for this special date.

Two examples of the type of work the center can help clients with are: a) developing websites such as the Digital Literacy Partnership (DLP) project with Valerie Ubbes; and b) developing e-books for selected works available on Computers and Composition Digital Press with Heidi McKee –for this project, we’re working with our colleague Jason Michel.  The DLP project will be our first project using Omeka and it has allowed us to understand better the functionality -and some of the limitations- of this great open source online exhibit tool.  For instance, because of the type of DLP files (video and slideshow), we had to edit the show.php file and customize it accordingly.  Here is an outline of the changes we made:

<?php if (item('Dublin Core', 'Type') == 'Moving Image') { ?>
<iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/<?php echo $VimeoID;?>"
 width="500" height="375" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen
 mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>
<?php } else { // NOT a video, but a slideshow ?>
<!-- WOWSlider script -->
<?php $filename = item('Dublin Core', 'Identifier');
$dir = "/var/www/../viewer/" . $filename . "/";
if ($handle = opendir($dir)) {
$i = 0;
while (false !== ($entry = readdir($handle))) {
if ($entry != "." && $entry != "..") {
$all_files[] = $entry;
$i++; }}
closedir($handle); }
sort($all_files); // very important
$i=0;
foreach($all_files as $file) {
echo "<img src=\"/healthliteracy/viewer/$filename/$file\"
      alt=\"$file\" id=\"wowsl_$i\"/> \n";
$i++;
} ?>

Two other projects that I continue to work on are: CONTENTdm 6.x and DSpace 3.0.  In both cases, I’ve been quite pleased with the type of successful “tweaks” we’ve tested/implemented with pure jQuery & CSS code.  BTW: for those interested in hosted services, check out DSpaceDirect.

As for the next 2-3 weeks, some exciting things are also on the schedule: on Friday April 5, Kim Tully and I will be part of a panel at the 2012 SOA Conference and we’ll talk about the Civil War collection; on April 8-9, I’ll be at Case Western Reserve University attending their Second Colloquium on Digital Scholarship; on April 16, I’ll teach a class on HTML & CSS –which will serve as a first practice for my upcoming IMS 201 class in the fall; and of course, April 23 will “the day” for us in the center.

Last, my article on DSpace Mobile Interface was published this month … and thanks to a comment, now I know that for future tests I can also use The Responsinator site … now time to check the latest issue of Research Information.

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January is gone!

In the first few days of January, I heard a couple of colleagues/friends saying: “2013 may be a better year” … and if staying busy is an indicator of “better”; then, I’d probably agree with that statement, although now we just need see what else can be done in the next 11 months.  And speaking of “what can be done” or maybe “what have been done” I cannot think of a better example that my 5th Year Annual Report, which I just submitted today and it’ll also serve as the first draft for my dossier for promotion due in June :-( … some of the highlights in that report include some exciting/recent/upcoming projects:

  • Omeka, we’re just days away to launch our first real faculty-driven project using Omeka.  It felt great to write some PHP code again, the first real tweak I had to work on was to write a script that reads the content of a folder with images and generate proper HTML code for a WOW Slider viewer.  This responsive jQuery image slider comes with some amazing visual effects.  J. Millard also wrote a script to pull book covers from OpenLibrary and I added some extra lines to embed videos from Vimeo.  As for the look-and-feel, it was mostly CSS and a couple of minor jQuery calls.  Perhaps my only complain with Omeka is that it doesn’t seem to support multiple themes on the same instance. Here is a preview!
    omeka-site
  • CONTENTdm, in November 2012, I started working on a set HTML & PHP templates for our new Digital Collections website.  Major customizations will include: dynamic splash pages for individual collections, scripts for embedding videos hosted at external sites and using HTML5 web standards, and a mobile-optimized interface using the jQuery Mobile Framework.  It’s absolutely great to seen the new image viewer in action … cannot wait to finalize this long-awaited upgrade.  Another exciting addition in this new version will be our Música Colonial collection, which will feature some multimedia files –thanks Jonathan Goodliffe.
  • DSpace, we’re also planning to run our own DSpace 3.0 instance soon, which should also allow us to install/customize all -or many of- the features in this new release.  This change will also help me in adding/fixing some functions in my mobile theme.  BTW: This week, I got my first formal inquiry -from Venezuela- about this work … got me to use my Spanish skills again.
  • dh-brown-bag-series-flyerDigital Humanities, as a follow up to the DH symposium we had last semester, next month we’ll start with a brown bag archived webinars series, Miami faculty, grad students and librarians are welcome … look forward to keeping the conversation and exploring the possibilities for some DH projects.  BTW: I’m also excited to be part of an NEH Digital Humanities grant proposal that a group of faculty is working on … which also reminds me to install/test ARIS in the very near future.

Ok, that’s it for today … time for a much needed break, next week will be a short week as I’m attending a two-days NEH/DH workshop in Columbus, and the week after I’ll be watching some of the Code4Lib talks –thanks for streaming it again.

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Wireframes, Prototypes & DSpace web customization

wireframe-exampleThose five words were quite popular in my to-do lists in November … first, they make up more than a third of the requirements for a new and exciting job description we’re working on; second, I spent some good time working on a couple of fixes for the DSpace mobile theme; third, I recently added a few jQuery lines to embed videos in DSpace; and finally, this week I sat down with a faculty for 1.5 hours prototyping a new website for one of her projects –in this session, we created three wireframes and today I actually worked on the first one, which obviously required some HTML & CSS editing –and some image tweaks in Photoshop as well.  Speaking of prototypes, wireframes, and web customization … two great video tutorials I recently saw in Lynda.com are: Creating an Effective Content Strategy for Your Website, where the author talks about how to think strategically about content in many formats (text, images, videos, animations, and infographics); and Interactive Data Visualization with Processing, where the author presents techniques on how to start communicating ideas and diagramming data in a more interactive way.

dspace-logoAs for DSpace tweaks, we continue to add video content to our Scholarly Commons site; the current OhioLINK approach is to upload an mp4 file and a special flash theme streams the content in DSpace, this method works great on computers … however, on devices with no flash support (e.g. iPad) users simply cannot get to see the video.  In theory, a possible solution would be to use HTML5 video standards; in fact, I ran a couple of test using http://videojs.com but there seems to be a limitation -at least during my tests- with large videos (30+ minutes), sometimes it’ll take for ever to start playing … and because many of the videos on our site are over 30 minutes, I decided to go back to a video theme I created a year ago.  This video theme relies on videos hosted on Vimeo; the trick is to upload a copy of the video in Vimeo and add the vimeo URL in the metadata (e.g. dc.relation.isversionof: http://vimeo.com/17095108) … and with the following jQuery lines, “all” users will get the see/play the video; if the device/browser supports flash, it’ll play the regular mp4; if not, it’ll embed the vimeo file.  Examples include the videos in the Open Access Week collection.  BTW: the audio in one of the videos was “low/noisy” … so the workaround was: a) export an mp3 file from iMovie; b) use Audacity features (amplify and noise filters) to enhance the audio and export a new mp3 file; c) import the new mp3 in iMovie; and d) create an mp4 file using MPEG Streamclip.

  // detect non-flash support
  if (typeof navigator.plugins['Shockwave Flash'] !== 'undefined') {
  // if supported, then do nothing
  // alert('support');
     } else {
  // hide mp4 and embed vimeo file -if exists-
  // alert('no support');
  // check for number of links
  if (($("div#ds-body
     div#aspect_artifactbrowser_ItemViewer_div_item-view
     table.ds-includeSet-table a").length) > 2 ) {
  $("object").hide();
  // select vimeo file URL
  var htmlStr = $("div#ds-body
      div#aspect_artifactbrowser_ItemViewer_div_item-view
      table.ds-includeSet-table a:eq(1)").html();
  var htmlStr = htmlStr.replace('http://vimeo.com/', '');
  // replace mp4 code with vimeo iframe
  var htmlStr = $("object:first").replaceWith
      ("<iframe src='http://player.vimeo.com/video/" +
      htmlStr + "' width='500' height='375' </iframe>");
  } else {
  // no vimeo file for this record
  $("object").hide();
  }
  }

As for the VIDEOJS, we’re most likely going to use it for another project where the average run-time is 2-5 minutes … cannot wait to test something with the caption option!  Last but not least, two recent news: my article in Spanish on Open Access & Latin America is now officially online; and a late email exchange this afternoon confirmed that DSpace 3.0 has been officially released … I have to say that it’s absolutely great to see the “mobile theme” in this new release … saaaaalu’ :-)

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