Posts Tagged WalkThruT

This Happened - it happened even if I wasn’t quite ready for it

I was a little less than prepared (I blame last weeks knee injury) but I presented at This Happened last night.

We opted for a little bit of tech presentation and I tried to make it as accessible as possible but I did find myself rambling a little bit (during a 10 minute presentation is not a good idea).  The audience response was very kind and people asked some great questions.  So thank you everyone who attended and listened and for Chris for arranging.  Also I forget to thank Petra for all her hard work during the project but the timer was scarily ticking down to zero and I was really quite keen to get finished.

Michael Salmond - had some interesting links to ours in trying to view the city in different ways from a double decker bus and the juxtaposition of ideas of colonialism and cultural diversity.

Paul Rodgers and Ewan Winton -  might be of interest to some of our colleagues on the JISC RI funding programme, as it explores the connection between the tools of social media and the actual use in the creative industries.

Anab Jain - her talk was about a project see undertook with 8 people to explore the idea of the future and peoples desires, needs and expectations of the future.  It’s a really interesting project exploring the aspirations and consequences of a group designing for the future.

Sarah Drummond and Laurie Currie presented mypolice which is quite simply a really brilliant idea.  Allowing anyone  to engage with the police in both formal and informal ways using social media.  The idea being that people can celebrate interactions with the police where they have had positive experiences, to reinforce good work.  It also allows a dialogue when the service has been less than brilliant, allowing people to have a democratic voice to highlight flaws but also get some feedback to hopefully feel they are being listened too.  The work came out the Social Innovation Camp in Glasgow, which unites nerds and non nerds to produce interesting work in 48 hrs.  It’ll be really interesting to see how they bring the idea to market.

Twitter discussion

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Minutes of Project Meeting, 23rd September

Present: Chris, Karlyn, James, Peter, Petra, Dave

Historical Society feedback
The meeting with the Historical Society was useful but a little disappointing.  The system didn’t work well on this occasion.  It turned out that one iPhone had 3G turned off and therefore didn’t work at all.  The other had UI problems that we hadn’t been encountered before.

The users were also frustrated that they couldn’t zoom in to see the maps in more detail.  This didn’t work because the map images that we are using were scanned at only 300dpi.

Among the feedback on the UI, the users requested a button to switch back to the Google Maps without using a menu, and they would have liked an online introduction.

Work Package 5 (User Community Enhancements)
- To improve the download time, we compressed the images, cached downloaded images, and optimised the Javascript and HTML code.
- We improved the UI in response to feedback.
- Among new features, users have ability to create their own markers and routes, upload them to the server and share them with others.
- The beta version of the new Google API is still lacking some functionality so we haven’t been able to use it.

Work Package 6 (User Community and Embedding)
- The Conservation students are now back.  Chris and Karlyn will lead them in exploring the opportunities that the system allows.
- We will buy an iPhone 3GS for user tests
- Minor point: we need to add functionality to see full the text associated with a marker.
- Minor point: we need to modify map names to indicate scale more clearly.

NLS maps
We have been in discussion with the National Library of Scotland to get access to higher resolution, pre-OS, maps.  These won’t be available in the timeframe of the project, because they need to be georeferenced.

Discussion of followup activity
We discussed possible followup activities, both academic and commercial.

Management Actions
Dave to check budget re iPhone purchase and expenses for Manchester trip.

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Web App fail?

The first round of testing that Karlyn performed was a resounding… well, fail to be honest.  I received a phone call bright and early one morning with the results of Karlyn’s testing.

To be honest it just didn’t work for her.  After a fairly disappointed chat we figured out what the problem was - is - might be?

Our testing has been done with WI-Fi and with iphone 3gs’s, and whenever we have done tests they are under lab conditions with the watchful eye of Petra or myself.  Outwith those lab conditions it turns out that the world of mobile and web apps is a bit fraught.

The main issue was getting a consistent and reliable signal at 3g - without this our application doesn’t work so well.  This is probably true of almost all mobile applications that need an internet connection but particularly for us as we are getting back data from a couple of sources and presenting it.  One web service call and another direct HTTP connection but that is for each tile, so we are basically sending a whole lot of HTTP requests and over GPRS this is not so good.

We came up with a couple of ideas on how to solve this - 1) try the Google Maps 3 API which is a little more mobile centric 2) some caching

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lack of blogging - must mean we are busy

Since getting back from the JICRI conference we have been very quiet on the blog.  This doesn’t mean we haven’t been up to much (quite the opposite) but we have been a bit busy with other project commitments but I thought I better get blogging.

First of all thanks to everyone who spoke to us and voted for us at the JISCRI event.  Our cheeky little nerdy gag about Deloreans found a home.  We were able to hold our heads high as second place in the 20 second pitches, even after Pat’s rather brilliant phone based pitch.

So I thought I would do a couple of short posts on what we have been trying and what were up to as we have our prototype wandering into the users hands.

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Minutes of project meeting, 7th September

I was about to post the minutes of our most recent meeting when I noticed I hadn’t posted those of the previous meeting.  So not only are we presenting historical maps, we’re blogging historical meetings.  The paperwork must be done!

Present: Chris, Ian, Karlyn, Dave, Peter, Petra, James.

JISCRI Programme Meeting
Peter, Petra and Chris attend the JISCRI programme meeting in Manchester on Sept 3 & 4.  The meeting was useful in providing hints for development and for finding what other people are working on, especially in the Geo area.

In one sesssion, each project had to give a 45 second pitch.  Walking Through Time were voted 2nd out of 56 projects, which backs up our belief that our proposal generates a lot of interest.

Work Package 3
Our third development cycle, titled “Server-side Technologies and Data Ingest”, achieved the intended goals:

• Ability to Upload GPS route data
• Ability to add new locations
• Extensive Investigator field-testing, including route data and location information.
• Simple note tagging reinstated
• More work on UI - follow-me functionality, simplification of UI

Work Package 4
Our fourth cycle was on User Engagement and Advocacy.  Originally we were planning to involve the M.Sc. students at this stage but they were too involved with finishing their dissertations, so instead the investigators did more concentrated field testing themselves.  This gave useful feedback to the development team.

The meeting with the Historical Society is planned for the 18th.  This will be led by Karlyn and will give us feedback from non-academic users.

So far, the key problem is speed of presentation.  The new iPhone 3GS is fast enough.  iPhone 3G is a bit slow. Dropping from 3G to EDGE as you walk around makes performance too slow.  The problem is primarily on the client rather than server-side; we’re downloading too much data for slower networks.  So our work in WP5 will have to address this.  This is where agile management is giving us a win; we were planning for WP5 to be led by the feedback we received in WP4 and this is what is happening.

Work Package 5
As noted above, WP5 will concentrate on speed.  We will try using the new Google Maps API, which is supposed to be faster.  We will otimise our Javascript and HTML files to reduce their size.  We might also switch to a larger server.

Possibly we could also provide a bare-bones version with less functionality to download.

In addition to the performance work, we will also continue to improve the admin interface in response to feedback.

AOB
Ian will develop a route for testing.
James will see whether the historical maps provided by the National Library of Scotland are available as a WMS.
James will find other groups that could test, potentially elsewhere in the UK.

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Cross Platform?

One of our goals was to try and produce something which worked cross platform.  We recognised this was a bit of a steep call but our lofty goals haven’t stopped us this far.  As a lot of our earlier work was focused on exploring navigation techniques and ideas we got a little swept up in iPhone mania (I blame Chris personally) but worry not…

android Video

I gave it a spin in the android simulator and well … it works …

Kind of, a lot of the functionality which we are relying on api’s for doesn’t seem to work in the emulator but what does work is the very basics of the application - which is really, really encouraging

Please excuse the crudely put together flash video but I was so excited that I a) got the emulator to work and b) the application worked, I felt a need to share…

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Testing Times Ahead!

Chris is going to have good play with the version 1 of the application.

So we have produced a very quick summary of the available functions in the first phase of testing

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Screen grab

Looking good. Starting to work.

I was actually standing in the ECA quadrangle so we seem to be 3-400 metres SW of target. But pretty good progress so far.img_1215img_1216

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Notes from the project meeting of July 31st

Action report
All the actions from the July 21st meeting have been done.

WP2 Status
We have enhanced the interface to produce a usable demo, including navigation between layers and overlaying of different layers.  We have improved the HTML/CSS that we produce to better support multiple browsers.
EDINA provided better code for mapping between projections which has helped a lot.
Images are now served via a web proxy so that VPN access is not required.
One limitation is that as the historical maps are only available at certain zoom levels, the user can zoom to levels where no historical information is available.

WP3 Plans
The first task, which is under way, is to add functionality so that the blue dot moves on the map as the user moves.
We will refine navigation between layers by adding buttons to switch directly between layers.
Then we will provide support for landmarks and for defining simple routes via waymarkers.
The result should be suitable for the extended user testing of WP4.

We will postpone the provision of simple note tagging as this is not as much a priority as the other tasks.

WP5 preview

WP5 was deliberately left underspecified so that we could respond to user feedback and experience.  Currently is seems likely that tasks for WP5 will include administration facilities for building routes and work to dynamically reposition the overlay of maps to ensure better alignment based on the user’s current position.

Actions
Peter to blog potential requirements
Karlyn to find users outwith the project team to try the system in its current state.

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Budget in JISC form

Just somewhere to put the JISC templated budget so that it can be referenced in the Project plan!

wwtplanbudget_jiscri_jisc

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