Exam Week Discussion

April 27th, 2010

Adventures in Digital History’s Top 3

I enjoyed how much variation there was across the group projects. While each group project covered a different  topic, the weekly presentations were helpful for exposing the rest of the class to a wide range of resources. I also enjoyed that the class divided its emphasis between the current trends in web-based technology and historical research. Trying to combine both  has been easier by first understanding each separately. I enjoyed the degree of creativity that each project offered.

Recommended Changes

The first thing that I would change is timing of the tech-help classes. I like the idea of having Patrick come to our class at least one more time. At some points, I felt that we probably have dedicated an entire class to a Q&A session! I also think that whoever had posted the idea about weekly 6-8 min. presentations had something  going there.

Additional Topics – I think a project about Native American History would be really neat.

Advice – I would tell future students that they should not fear the technology. I would tell them that it is less random than it seems. I would also encourage them to stay close with their group. It was nice to have class time to meet, but it was imperative to meet extensively outside of class. I would also tell them how satisfying it is to have a project seen by so many people!

Here is a final clip I threw together – It takes place in the park located behind the Greenbriar Apts.
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Ready, Steady, Go!

April 27th, 2010

The last few weeks have been really exciting and exhausting at the same time. We have officially launched our site about James Monroe’s Mission to France! I am really proud of my group for all of their hard work. I would also like to thank Dr. McClurken for his helpful feedback, Patrick Murray-John and Jim Groom for not kicking me out of the DTLT upon my unannounced visits and for their timely assistance, Dr. Hannah’s map group for their willingness to do whatever our group asked them to do, and Dr. Preston for providing us with direction and numerous, comprehensive sources. His book, The Papers of James Monroe: Selected Correspondences Vol. 3, was extremely helpful. With that said, I wonder who to talk to about getting our site recognized as an ‘additional link‘  on the section of UMW’s website dedicated to the Monroe Papers Project

April Fool’s Day

April 1st, 2010

Happy April Fool’s Day! I hope nobody gets pranked too hard by a malicious roommate! This week, the JMP group has definitely reached some unofficial milestones with regard to our site. All of our primary sources have been placed into collections, archived as items, and added to its appropriate section within its appropriate exhibit. Minor backtracking was done because a few letters from random dates had been sorted into the wrong letter’s file folder. No biggie, but was a minor setback that I am glad to have caught early on. There have been a number of other issues facing our group as we work with Omeka. Fortunately, Patrick and Jim have been in the DTLT during recent afternoons and have been helpful during my unannounced visits with leading me in the right direction and giving me feedback about various issues. After working on my site in the center, I have learned that we can avoid malfunctions in the appearance of our site within certain web browsers (primarily Internet Explorer) by copy and pasting our word-processed text into Omeka from notepad or similar programs. I guess from a url (googledocs) or a word document (.doc) the text is embedded with different code than notepad’s .txt format. Aside from wanting to watch the room’s awesome tv, I will surely keep using the center during my website work.

One source that was recommended to me by the DTLT was a firefox add-on called Firebug. The goal of this firefox extension is too conveniently find and edit problems with the html code within one’s website. As I learn more about the various codes, I am sure the program will be easier to navigate. Right now it is a little over my head! I will be discussing the other issues of our website in today’s presentation.

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So in my last post, I did not get to mention the purpose of my video clip. I had an idea to film a video skatelogue to serve as a tour of UMW, but seen through my extreme sports endeavors. The first clip featured one of my favorite songs from the Grass Roots (see my earlier posts for  video of a cool 60’s performance), but I forgot to add it too the credits. Sadly, over the weekend I sprained my ankle playing tennis, so I don’t have new footage, but I had some time to edit a lost clip that didn’t make it to last week’s video. In this week’s clip, I was able to use the ‘slow motion’ effect from Windows Movie Maker to edit the speed of the video and better sync it with the music. Enjoy!

Freeware Frenzy

March 25th, 2010

First of all, I want to congratulate Mackenzie on her endeavors with Simile. Lexy and I spent the greater part of the week trying to figure out ways to manipulate our images in ways other than zoomify that would work in a similar way. We primarily looked into converting files to PDF format from .JPEGS or .DOCS. I was surprised at the differences between the capabilities of expensive software and freeware programs. I guess in the digital age the internet can make accessing information free and easy, but the programs we use to actually create that information surely is not! It’s no wonder that many get concerned over copyright laws when they have to pay the hundreds of dollars, if not more, for software or programs that made their creation possible.

In other news, I look forward to getting to the James Monroe museum for supplemental information about James Monroe, whom I have learned a great deal about while working with our primary sources. While our site needs a lot of work, all of our research is really coming together and I am proud of my group for the work they have been putting in! Also, if anyone is interested, the Digital Technology Center is having one of their workshops tomorrow.


March 18th, 2010

Looking at the blog posts for this week, it is quite obvious that there are some serious concerns among myself and the rest of the JMP group. Yes- there are issues we have been facing, but in my opinion, it shows a genuine concern for the outcome of the project. Attempting to utilize applications that allow for more readable letters and an overall more appealing site has been quite difficult. With Patrick gone for the week, I have been pretty much on my own with my Omeka work. Lexy and I quickly played around with Zoomify a bit over the weekend, but I don’t even think we got past unzipping the program! Since then, I have realized the multitude of available options. Everyday shows more progress and I am hopeful that we can embed the image converter into Omeka in the not too distant future!

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Omeka Overview

March 11th, 2010

First of all, I hope everyone had a relaxing and satisfying spring break!  While visiting my parents, I found some extra time to become better acquainted with the Omeka site. Tomorrow I’ll be discussing our site’s map, but for now I want to recap some experiences Iv’e had with Omeka. Before information begin to compile onto the website, I didn’t see much use for the creation of ‘collections.’ After adding a few transcriptions, summaries, and keyword lists to the archive to experiment with, I found that it is much more time-efficient to consolidate a multiple-page letter into a collection. Then, when adding the letter to a section’s page, there is no need to sift through the entire archive (not to mention that thumbnail images of a letter don’t provide much clarity!) I was particularly pleased with the number of layouts available for the pages. Since the exhibits revolve around Monroe’s letters, the usefulness of our site will depend on a layout that makes the document easily read.

One effective way to overcome this restriction may lie within an add-on called Zoomify, a program which, according to their site, “makes high-quality images fast and interactive over the web – regardless of image size”  and is “revolutionizing digital … image archiving”. Zoomify offers a range of products with different capabilities. Compatible with Omeka-style publishing platforms, the product that our group would probably be interested in is either Zoomify Express or Zoomify Enterprise.

Although the multitude of available resources is a bit overwhelming and the resources often have overlapping features, choosing the right one will undoubtedly enhance both the degree of creativity available to us admins and will enhance the enjoyment that our site’s audience will have during their visit.

-Seth M.

Pre-Presentation Post

February 24th, 2010

During the last few weeks, the JMP group has not met too frequently. We had divided tasks up pretty evenly once our contract was completed, giving everyone in the group a focus. Taking advantage of google docs has also been a helpful alternative to in-person meetings or sending and resending e-mails and e-mail attachments.  Monroe’s letters to the Secretary of State during George Washington’s presidency are a really interesting account of the United States’ early diplomatic efforts and France’s military and political conflicts. One of the more interesting aspects appears to be that during Monroe’s time is France, he faced political criticism from back in the US and even became entangled in a full blown political scandal! Dr. Preston has been really helpful with looking over our work with the primary sources. I have, on the other hand, been pretty unsuccessful in finding relevant information in our sources for those individuals who were the subject of Dr. McKlurken’s announcement to our group on Tuesday.

In my time away from the books, I have been watching the TV show ‘The Office‘  and for any other fans out there I came across this great video clip of Creed from a long time ago.[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/ySjxZDT_5SA" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


James Monroe and More!

February 12th, 2010
 Marc Chagall, Paris Through the Window, 1913

Marc Chagal, Paris Through the Window, 1913. I wonder if this was what the view was like for Monroe while he was in France...

As an update for this week, I guess I can start by introducing my group. I have been working with Lexy, McKenzie, and Chris. After a change of our original plan, we have been given a blank slate for our opportunity to create a website based around Monroe’s post as Minister to France during George Washington’s presidency. This week, while they cooked up a contract, I diligently made efforts to organize the images of Monroe’s correspondences. My modus operandi was pretty simple. Having a current iTunes library of 555 albums from 280 different artists has made it imperative that I learn how to efficiently organize digitized files. The creators of zotero hept this basic format in mind when they were programming the library browsing format of their program too. Since our group has decided we want to focus on Monroe’s correspondence with the U.S. Secretary of State while he in France, I was able to place about half of the original 500 images into a folder for Edmund Randolf or Timothy Pickering – the two Secretaries of Sate for the time period we are working with. Once you open up either folder, their are separate folders labeled by the date of the correspondence. Each date contains anywhere from a short letter of 3 image files (pages) to a long letter of about 10 or so files. Either way, I think that this is a much easier way to find the specific event and divide tasks which involve working with the letters. Once we are further along familiarizing ourselves with the letters’ contents  each “Date Folder” will also hopefully include our own word processed file (.doc) of a brief or detailed summary, and the transcription (if applicable). I am really proud of the work that my group has done thus far and I hope they are as excited to see this project blossom as I am! The reason for the photos was threefold. First, I love art and want to expose others to artistic beauty. Secondly, our project deals with image files (scanned letters from a microfilm reel) and, just like Kari, I am not very techno-saavy so I have been trying to manipulate images across different interfaces to help me learn (i.e. blog posts, windows photo gallery, etc). Next stop Flickr! -Seth M

This was the first painting of Chagall’s I ever saw. It has been hanging in my grandparents hallway since I’ve known them.
The first Chagall painting I ever saw

Marc Chagall, I and the Village, 1911.

Passing Time During a Snowday…

February 12th, 2010

With the multitude of powdery precipitation throughout this past week, I thought that I would take the opportunity to manipulate more media. Playing around with windows movie maker, a program that until last week had never been opened on my computer, I considered making a short clip of my snowday adventure. Since I am not connected with most of you all on other social networks, I thought I would use this space to provide you with an example of a short clip of my winter hobbies. Filmed on a standard digital camera with a setting for recording, an mp3 file, and windows movie maker as a publishing platform is all it takes.

I hope this works…

Ok so it only half works at this point… I have run into a number of problems…

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The wordpress for umwblogs is not cooperating too well. As a member of Facebook, I was easily able to upload it to my facebook page. Embedding the video file from my hard drive (a .wmv file) to the blog was a failure. I should mention that I activated the Plug-in WordTube which may have hindered my endeavor…. My last attempt to try this will be to the the html code from my facebook media and put embed the video the the blog that way.

Third time’s a charm!

A simple question. A simple answer?

January 31st, 2010

After our Media and Mashup-ups lecture, I began to think about other ways that utilizing tools for digital media files would be convenient in most of our daily lives.
After obtaining the .mp3 file of DJ-Shadow’s most recent album, I was disappointed to see that the album had been consolidated into one track! Does anybody in the class use any extension or add-on tool for either Windows or a Windows program that allows a user to edit an .mp3 file on a PC (in this case, splitting one file into parts)?
-Seth M

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OK, so as I try to make progress on this….. Using the Windows Movie Maker I was able to add the one file album into ‘audio’ then “trim” it to find just the section (or in the case of my question, tracks). The only reason I made the flash video is because it is a short clip and provides the album cover as a minimal visual enhancement. Ideally I would like to use the JMP plug in, it looks neat, or maybe some images of Bush, Dj Spooky, turntables, an elephant, etc… My point for this update is this – Can anybody correctly identify this speech? Have a good weekend!