- The Lab of Ornithology is entering a redesign for the site and has started a blog to chronicle the process.
- we have recently re-vamped the Student Life, Alumni, and Outreach sections of cornell.edu with new photos and features. Carrie tells me that the President’s section is on deck.
- We also added a prominent link to the Campaign down in the middle column of the home page. Any thoughts?
- Somewhere in the not-too-diatant past, the Cornell Facebook Page crested 1000 fans, which is only noteworthy because I remember when we had five, three of which worked in my office.
I know. I know.
I have no excuses. Well, no good ones, anyway.
Instead, I offer some brief updates about what’s been going on lately.
Events Calendar Upgrade
I wish I had better news, but the truth of it is that the project is delayed. As you may recall, our timeline initially had a September launch date.
There have been some issues with the server environment necessary for the latest release of Bedework and it’s going to take some time to get them resolved. We’re hoping to go live in January instead (fingers crossed, please).
Meanwhile, Ken and Zac have been working on skinning the public interface to be a nearly exact replica of the current calendar on cornell.edu. It’s pretty darn impressive, if I do say so myself.
We actually have a meeting this afternoon to discuss the administrative interface, which has been re-skinned and re-worked a little from that with which the current calendar users are familiar. All for the better, the easier, the more streamlined, I promise.
Life on the Hill Blogs
Here, we have good news! We finished hiring for the student blogging project last month and I’m pleased to say that there are two major firsts:
1. For the first time since we launched in 2006, we will have all of the undergraduate colleges represented.
2. And, for the first time ever, we will have a Freshman blogging from the moment she lands on campus.
Next year, there will be nine bloggers, total (up one from this year, which was up two from the pilot year of the program). I have been calling it “The Year of the Menfolk” because (another first, I suppose) we skew decidedly male in our demographic–six to three, in fact. Let’s hear it for the boys!
Zac is in the middle of a redesign for the Life on the Hill page on cornell.edu and early comps are looking great. Expect something fun and different from anything we’ve done before.
And I have spent a goodly portion of my recent days assiting one of the students in getting his blog set up early so he can jet off to a summer dig in Tuscany without worry. Jealousy does not even begin to descrivbe my feelings on this matter.
How strong are your powers of observation?
Notice anything different about the homepage, lately?
No? Go on, take a look. We’ll wait. [HINT: Scroll down. Way down.]
Look at that. The “Any person…any study” quote that used to be in the grey bar under the pano images has been not only moved, but expanded to it’s full glory.
Currently, it’s linked to the page for the University Mission Statement, but we are gathering content for a new page about the quote itself–both history and intent. You can expect that to launch sometime over the summer and I will, of course, make mention of it here.
Any blog…any tagline,
As you may recall, my last post made passing reference to the launch of Safety Zone on CUInfo.
Since then, we’ve had the chance to gather some (not a lot) of feedback from the community. But, you know me. I’m all about the feedback. And it does say “Join the conversation!” up there at the top…
So, here’s a screen shot of the Safety Zone (click to enlarge).
Or, if you like, you can go directly to CUInfo and look at the most current listing. Totally up to you.As mentioned before, the purpose of this feature is to both point to important announcements about safety-related events and provide links to other safety resources on the web at Cornell.
The question is, is it working?
Several folks have wondered aloud about whether or not having such information so prominently displayed on a regular basis will dilute the message. Others have gone so far as to complain that adding it to the upper part of the page and moving the directory links to the bottom does them a real disservice in the realm of functionality.
Fact of the matter is that, in today’s climate of potential shooters on campus, possible terrorists lurking around every corner and–oh yes, I’m really going there–irresponsible people whose lack of sexual savvy leads to syphilis outbreaks on campus, we need to have a place to communicate emergency and safety related information.
Here are the sort of things you can expect to see in this area:
- Health alerts
- Travel Advisories/Road closures
- Campus Outages (power, water)
- Emergency alerts
- Crime alerts
And here are some questions for you to chew on–because I know it’s always easier to start with something to jump from.
- Do road closures belong in the Safety Zone?
- Is SZ something that you want to see all the time, whether or not there is something going on?
- What about those links to safety resources? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
- How long should something stay up on SZ?
- Should there be an archive of old postings?
Drop us a comment with your answers to the above or your thoughts on the SZ in general?
Remember: Danger never takes a vacation!
(and, apparently, neither does syphilis)
Okay. I admit it. I have been doing a piss-poor job at blogging, lately.
There are lots of excuses, but none of them are really any good so let’s just skip all that and move right to the content part of today’s program.
Some Things of Note from the OWC:
- Bonnie, intrepid and dutiful soul that she is, has managed to input all of the right data tags for the weather icons, which means that we now have pretty pictures on the weather page once more.These went live on Tuesday and the process involved hand-coding more than 300 tags to match the National Weather Service’s taxonomy for weather conditions. You should all shower Bonnie with appreciation and thanks.
Get it? Shower her? Okay, fine. Moving on.
- Bonnie (with design help from Zac) has also just launched a new feature on CuInfo called Safety Zone. This is part of our initiative around emergency communications and the area is designed to both point to important announcements about safety related events and provide links to other safety-related resources on the web at Cornell. As always, we welcome your input and thoughts.
- Yesterday morning, we launched a new site for the Land Grant section of cornell.edu. It looks rather similar to the uninitiated eye, so let me point out some of the highlights for you:
- This is the first section of cornell.edu to be executed in CommonSpot, so it is both our test case for proof of concept AND the first time that content will be able to be updated directly by a departmental curator (as opposed to having to be processed by someone at the OWC).
- It features Flash in a way that has never been used before on the site in the Interactive Map of New York State.
This launch was a long-time in the making!
- And, speaking of launches that were a long time in the making…the Outreach Portal is also live as of this morning!
And Here’s What I’ve Been Doing Instead of Blogging
Okay. So there was that one trip to doversaddlery.com to order new breeches and clipper blades for the upcoming horse show season. And maybe there was also a Google search or two about Benjamin Disraeli. But you can’t prove I wasn’t on a break while surfing.
Mostly, though, I have been up to my eyeballs in applications for next year’s student bloggers on Life on the Hill.
This is our third year of blogging and, for the first time, we opened up our application process to anyone within the undergraduate student body. This involved advertising both on campus (via flyers in buildings and email invitations to targeted groups) and on Facebook (which was surprisingly easy and cheap, but perhaps also rather ineffectual). Deadline was Monday afternoon and I received a total of 33 applications–about three times as many as is typical.
So I have literally spent the past three days (8 hours a day–no kidding) with a red pen in my hand marking up the series of essay questions we put forth to applicants. From my desk, the top candidates will move on to the lightening round, wherein they will be read and ranked by both our current bloggers and Carrie and Bonnie. Then, we have pizza and hash it all out until we have agreed on the lucky winners.
Everyone else gets a ceramic Dalmation and a box of Rice-a-Roni (the San Francisco treat).
Here’s what’s going on in and around cornell.edu:
- The Panos you all had a sneak peek at a couple of weeks ago went live this morning!
- Speaking of panos…did you catch the one for our basketball victory? Another “Just In Time” pano is planned for Dragon Day next week.
- CornellCast has launched the In The Classroom feature and is currently showing lectures from Comm 285 (Communication in Life Sciences) and CS 211 (Intermediate Java Programming). Carrie tells me that “Execution-wise, it needs some work”, but I am a big fan of the random things that happen in each video. Sometimes, classes ARE interrupted by frat boys bearing gifts. Though, alas, never for yours truly.
- You can also now email your favorite CornellCast videos to your friends and family. Just in time for the Provost’s address this afternoon!
- This isn’t strictly related to cornell.edu, but the Press Office has just implemented an RSS Feed for their CU In the News feature. Eventually, you can expect to see this feed pulled into places like the Trustees’ site, the Diversity bridge page, the Social Sciences bridge, and others on cornell.edu. We’re waiting for some tweaks on the tagging first.
- Oh, and while we’re on the topic of bridge pages…the Alumni, Outreach, and New York City pages are all in various states of revision. Stay tuned for announcements when they launch.
Other Hot Topics Include:
Emergency Communications We are neck deep in the process of figuring out a plan (and work-flow) for how information about emergencies (everything from weather to pandemic illness to–god forbid–life threatening situations on campus) will be communicated through cornell.edu and other channels. I hope to have more on this to share with you all soon–once things are finalized.
Student Blogging Project I am thrilled to report that my own personal piece of cornell.edu (the Life On the Hill student blogs) is about to expand yet again. We were given permission to open up our applicant pool to include the entire undergraduate student body for the 2008-2009 school year. Look for advertising and information on how to apply to start showing up next week. Please do pass the word along to any students you think might be interested.
I’m about to get out of Dodge on vacation for a week (Bonnie will be blogging in my stead), but I thought it would be nice to share some pano-comps with you all before I go.
Disclaimer: These are ROUGH COMPS only and have not been touched by Zac at all. Stickers are approximate size and orientation/subject matter and are subject to change at any point in time. No purchase necessary, though donations are welcome. Many will enter, few will win. Offer not valid in Nebraska.
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge in a new window.
A few items of note:
- Why, yes, that IS an istockphoto watermark on the brushes in pano #1. See above re: rough comps and stickers changing. These are what we in the business like to call “proof of concept”.
- My first reactions to the stickers on #2 and #3 was that they were too small–then Carrie reminded me that our stickers are typically horizontally oriented (see #4 for example) and these are both vertical. Funny how little things like aspect ratio can fool you, isn’t it?
- Speaking of stickers, I love the one on #3. It looks like he just stepped right off Libe Slope and onto my browser window. The angle of the light even matches. It’s rare that we get this sort of synergy in the rough drafts.
- And, speaking of love, the shot in #4 is just stunning. Special kudos to UPhoto on that one!
So, what happens next?
Well, next I jet off to the beach for a week while Carrie and Zac go back and forth about the details turn rough comps into finished panos. Things like color balance and sticker placement and cropping. Light balance and sharpness. I don’t know when, exactly, these panos will go live. But I do know that they will look even more amazing when they do. Between them, Carrie and Zac will find everything that might possibly be wrong with these pictures and fix it. And we’ll find an un-watermarked sticker for #1, too.
If you have comments or thoughts on these panos (or ideas for other panos), drop us a comment. Carrie loves feedback.
I’ll have a fruity drink for them. And other for you all, as well.
I was hoping to have some comps to share with you re: the redesign of CornellCast, but the stars failed to align yesterday. Which is not to say that the comps were not ready — just that the PowersThatBe(tm) did not find them quite as perfect as Zac and Carrie and it’s back to the proverbial drawing board for the time being.
What I do have is a list of features you will find on the new CornellCast when it launches (slated for mid-February, at present) and a teeny, weeny sneak peek at how one of them will be represented on the page.
Let’s Do the Fun Stuff First
University Communications and the OWC will be partnering with Slope Media to deliver a Slope TV channel in CornellCast. This will consist entirely of content produced by Slope Media (or just “Slope” if you’re one of the cool kids) and chosen by Carrie and others in University Communications.
It’s worth mentioning that this is the first time the university has partnered so closely with an independent student group for content on cornell.edu. This is both exciting and slightly nerve-wracking, which is why Carrie and I will both be buying stock in L’Oreal. Because we’re both to young for greys. And we’re worth it.
We’ll also be adding a channel called “In the Classroom”, which will let viewers drop in on actual classes every day.
Here’s how we’ll be linking you to that:
Details are still being ironed out, but you can expected both edited (read that as “truncated for the interesting bits”) and complete classes will be available across all the various academic genres at Cornell. We expect that, eventually, Slope will help us in the filming and processing of these videos, but, for now, the production work will be done by The Media Production Group [formerly known as e-tv].
MPG–get it? That makes me smile every time.
Here are Some of the Other Upcoming Features
- An “email this video” link to make it easier for users to share CornellCast content with their loved ones.
- The ability to flag live streams in the University Calendar so it’s more obvious when an event is accompanied by a chance to view it online.
- An opt-in email reminder for live streams of specific events. You click a check-box, we send you an email when the stream is about to happen. No spam, we promise.
The latter two are slotted for release later in the semester, but work is already under-way toward making them a reality.
And, with the way things are going in Hollywood right now, CornellCast is shaping up to be your best chance for fresh and engaging “tv” for the forseeable future. We should sign Jon Stewart NOW.
I’m holding out for Survivor: Cornell,
It used to be that the big images on the Cornell Home Page were called “campaign images”–the idea being that the space would be used in organized ways to further any of several specific goals. Examples of this are (but are not limited to): the series of images we run every year in conjunction with both orientation and commencement, the sets of images of graduating seniors that run along side the series of features the Chronicle does on students of merit, Dragon Day images, Slope Day images…you get the picture, right? (No pun intended.)
I liked calling them “campaign images”. It made me feel like we were always two steps away from a balloon drop and an acceptance speech and, let me tell you, that’s about as involved with politics as I ever want to be. But then some folks over in Alumni Affairs decided that they needed to raise four billion dollars and we had to change it to “pano space” instead.
The nomenclature may lack pizzaz, but the images are still a vital part of the success of cornell.edu.
Here’s the latest on the Pano Space:
- Carrie and Zac tell me that there are no less than six new panos in the works right now. I’m not sure of subject matter, but I will certainly share as soon as I know.
- There is an ongoing discussion on the merits and drawbacks of bringing video to the space and we would love to hear your opinions on both concept and potential subject matter. That comment link is not down there for my health, people. Talk to me.
- We’re also in a semi-constant state of mild disagreement about where the pano space links to.What? you say. The pano space links somewhere?Indeed, it does. Many of them link to the Mission Page on cornell.edu, but Carrie has also been known to point them to sites appropriate to the subject of the photo.
And, again, I point you to that “Leave a Comment” link below. Because we would also like to know your thoughts on the matter. Do you care where they link to? Would it help or merely annoy if there were something on the photo to indicate that it is a link?
- And, finally, we’re considering having a contest for the pano space. The University of Central Florida does this with their equivalent of the panos and we think it might be fun to showcase photos and art produced by Cornellians of all flavors. And, really now–that comments link is your friend. Please do share your thoughts.
And here is some random stuff to round things out:
- A company called YOUniversity has made a video about Cornell that is geared toward prospective students. You can find it online at www.youniversity.tv/cornell.html. Requires Flash. And Advil if you are over the age of, say, 19.
- CornellCast is entering a redesign phase to add more features. More on that later, I promise.
- We are about to embark on early stages of implementation of a new university events calendar using Bedework on the back end. More on that later, too.
Better a Panoply than a Panopticon I Always Say,
I like maps. In college, I had a fold-out map of the Adirondack Park tacked to my dorm room wall and I would mark off routes I’d driven and places my roommate and I visited in my father’s Oldsmobile. By the end of my time in the North Country, it was practically neon with all the highlighter.
How, after all, can you know who you are if you don’t know where you are?
So I was excited about Wednesday’s Web Forum Meeting where Frank Popowitch from Campus Planning demonstrated what he hopes will be the new campus mapping system. Based on GIS data, the new maps are served up through a vendor application called ArcInfo and they’re seriously cool–even if you’re not a cartography geek.
Here’s a screen shot of the basic campus map in ArcInfo:
You will no doubt notice the green dots and the orange lines. These are part of a virtual campus tour that Frank and his shop are proposing be worked into the online version of the campus map that would be (eventually) available from cornell.edu/maps. The green dots represent 360 degree pano images of locations and the red lines mark QuickTime video of driving tours.
Currently, both the panoramas and the videos are content produced by Frank’s shop that is live only to those who have access to the test server this is all living on–but it’s certainly proof of concept.
Here’s another shot of a detail on the map. In this case, it’s the Ag Quad and parts of Eastern Campus (picked at random by yours truly):
Note the window on the left that is labeled “Map Contents”. In this instance, I had all of the layers turned on, so we can see everything from bike rack locations to Accessible entrances, to Bus Stops. All of those boxes are check-able (or not) so you can customize a map to your own liking. This is also just a very small sample of the data Frank has at his disposal, so the sky is kind of the limit when it comes to what you might want to see on your map.
Bus Routes? Totally do-able. Quickest way from Kite Hill to MVR? Also possible.
My suggestion of using the chips in our staff ids to track parking agents in real time was met with laughter, but I’m reasonably sure it’s possible to know when you’re about to get a ticket. We totally have the technology.
Here’s a zoom-in on the Ag Quad itself:
[you can click all you want; it's not going to get bigger]
That red line between Roberts and Mann Library is me using the measuring tool to determine how far away from one another they are. (Answer: 731.17 feet) You can also use that tool to mark routes on campus and figure out the total distance you would cover as you move from building to building throughout the day. (Ex: Roberts to Day Hall to Snee, to Riley Rob and back.)
So. Now that you’ve seen some pretty pictures, let’s talk details.
Frank (and the OWC) is looking for any and all feedback that you might have to offer on the project. Unfortunately, the test servers are not robust enough to open it up to campus actually poking around on the new maps. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tell us what you’d like them to be able to do or what you’d like to see re: interface functionality.
Here’s my Wish List:
- “Print This Page” or “Print My Map” feature. Right now, you can print the maps, but you have to use your browser’s print functionality to do it. It would be great if there were a button that exported your map to a readable size when printed on standard paper.
- “Save My Map” Recognizing that this would require storage space out the proverbial wah-zoo, I still think it would be nice if users could save layers from visit to visit. This might also come in handy if you are holding an event on campus or just want to share some of your favorite spots with friends or family who are coming to town. When I worked for Campus Information, we did it with highlighters on the printed versions–it would be great to send someone a URL instead. Or, better yet, print them a custom map marked with the places they need to go while on campus for an admissions visit.
- A better user interface. This one is very clunky to navigate around in and not very intuitive. If such a system were put in place on cornell.edu (or elsewhere on campus sites), some work should be done to make it easier to use.
What are your fondest wishes for a new campus map?
If you are a visitor, an alum, or someone who has a more casual relationship with Cornell, please leave your feedback in comments to this post. Typically, comments close on a post 7 days after it goes live, but I will set this one to remain open through the end of December.
If you’re part of the web developer community here on campus, please take a hop over to the CU Knowledgebase and use the page we’ve set up over there to list your requirements both user-based and technology related. You will need to log-in to Confluence (use Cornell Single Sign On) to edit the page. I’ve included a copy of my list from above as well as some of the technical aspects (those that I actually understand) on that page. Please feel free to add to the specs if you know more than I do–I’m sure there are plenty of you who do.
If you have specific questions about the mapping system, drop me an email and I’ll pass them along to Frank and his crew.
You’re on your own for the folding,
It sure has been awhile. You look great. Have you lost weight?
Why, yes, this IS a new haircut. Thanks for noticing.
I’m sure you also noticed the new look of this blog (courtesy of IWS) and I’m equally sure that the observant among you even noticed that we have changed our name from “cornell.edu Redesign” to “View Source”.
Here’s the scoop:
We’re not in redesign anymore.
I know, right? That’s so obvious it’s almost painful. But there is Zen in the obvious. Just ask the Dalai Lama.
Anyway. We’ve decided that we liked blogging about things we’re doing and what’s going on in the world of the web at Cornell, but the name was somewhat off-putting. So. Here we are: digitally re-mastered. Like Star Wars, only without the whole who shot first debacle.
There’s a lot to catch up on re: cornell.edu and what we’ve been doing since my letter to Santa last December (he totally came through on the pony, by the way)(not so much with the budget and hours in the day), but here’s a list of new panos that are in the works.
Panos in the works:
- Uris Library exterior
- A local vineyard
- The Plantations
- Collegetown in the summer
- Life imitates art in the gorge
I’ve seen comps for the vineyard and the C-town one. Things are looking good.
By the way, did you notice the set of three new panos that is live today? Shoals Marine Lab, Physics students at work, and Miss Minn’s Gardens. Go hit refresh a few times. We’ll wait.
Meanwhile, got any ideas for pano shots? Drop a comment or an email.
Two Other cornell.edu things of note:
- I’d like to take a moment to introduce Bonnie Sellers, who is our new Assistant Content Manager. She’s also working for the Chronicle Online in the same capacity. And trust me when I say that, in this case, 1/2 + 1/2 = more than a full-time job.
- And, okay, this isn’t so much about cornell.edu as it is about our efforts to sit at the table with the cool kids, but we’ve made a Facebook page for Cornell. I’m the lucky curator, so please let me know if you think of anything cool that should be there. Or if you have any thoughts about the concept in general. Should we even be on Facebook? What would Uncle Ezra think?
And, speaking of the Chronicle, they’re blogging, too! Take a wander over to Quadblogger and check out my competition. They’ve got me hands down in the humor department, but I’m totally rocking Geeks & Nerds for $400.
It’s also been a busy year elsewhere on the web at Cornell.
Sites that have re-designed since we last spoke:
- The Law School (CommonSpot) Check out their virtual tours!
- The Hotel School (home-grown content management system)
- The Press Office (Cornell Developer Templates)
- Academic Technology Services & User Support (CommonSpot–I think)
- The Department of Horticulture (CommonSpot)
- Shoals Marine Lab
- Department of Plant Biology (CommonSpot)
- School of Continuing Ed and Summer Sessions
Did I miss any? Drop me a line or a comment if you’re feeling left out.
It’s good to be back,
(Han totally shot first!)