Friday, Feb. 15
Current weather conditions in Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow showers with new snow accumulation of one and a half inches possible, a high of 34 and a low of 13. Chance of precipitation: 50 percent.
Current weather conditions in Aruba: Mostly sunny with a high of 88 and a low of 76. Chance of hunky surfing instructor walking shirtless down the beach in front of you while you sun on golden beaches in a pina colada-induced stupor: 82 percent.
Do I sound slightly jealous? Well perhaps I am, but one thing is certain. Lisa could not have picked a better week to go on a vacation to the Caribbean. Let’s recap what Lisa has missed this week: snow, sleet, ice, rain, wind, poor driving conditions and the first below-zero temperature dip of the season. But no worries – there is plenty more where that came from.
In fact, on Monday, Ithaca can expect rain and snow showers for most of the day with a high of 41 and a low of 18. I know this because our all-knowing weather page tells me so. The page has been up and running for a while now – much to the delight of everyone on campus – but something is still missing…
In the near future, Mark Fowler and I will be hard at work making the dream of Cornell’s signature weather icons a reality. The process is a daunting one – more for its busy work than its technical complexity – and involves taking our weather file’s current title values and replacing them with what our friends at the National Weather Service use for their weather forecasts.
I happen to think winter weather in Ithaca can be summed up in three words – cold, dreary and gray – but the NWS seems to favor the use of more descriptive terminology, what with their fancy triple and quadruple Doppler radars and all. Some examples are “fair and breezy,” “heavy blowing snow” and “clear skies and hailing.” (When we would use phrases like “clear skies and hailing” to accurately describe the weather is clearly out of my professional expertise.)
There are upwards of 130 icons that need keywords updated to match those of the NWS. This might be pretty slow-going, but it could be therapeutic to be reminded that “warm and sunny” is a possible weather condition around here.
And though the “warm and sunny” weather icons may not be appearing until May or June, hopefully we’ll be seeing weather icons at all before spring thaw.
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.
A Whole Lotta Limbo
- After a long evaluation and consensus-building project, Bedework has been chosen as the infrastructure for the new university calendar. I’ve only just started poking around in it, so I don’t really have much to say just yet. Look for a Summer implementation in one form or another. Many, many details to follow.
- Undergraduate Admissions is set to begin work on a site for newly accepted students and has enlisted the help of the OWC to get the ball rolling. Details to follow on that, too.
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful. So are we.
Okay, so maybe President Bush was talking about terrorists when he said that, but web folks have enemies, too. Time. Time is a big one. Competing priorities is another. Budget, of course. Process, too.
We here at cornell.edu are trying to wage a guerilla campaign against all of the above, but we need some help.
What sort of innovative things would you like to see in adjunct to the site? Weather widgets? Photo blogs? A rousing game of “Where’s Ezra?” in the Pano-space?
Drop some comments and share your wildest wishes, please? Sky’s the limit in this phase. Show me what you’ve got.
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,
We got some good comments and questions on the last post about the campus mapping project. (Thank you!) Here are some answers.
- do we have better satellite imagery?
- do the GIS folks at Mann Library have actual imagery that could be layered with this data?
- Also, I think 2D is one dimension short, how about one more for the road?
The answers to numbers one and two are a very hearty “I don’t know.” These questions came up in the 12/12 Forum meetting in the context of using Google Maps satellite images in conjunction with our data and the answer was that there is not sufficient imagery to cover our area in detail.
Indeed, I just went to Google Maps and looked for “Cornell University Ithaca” and there appears to be NO imagery at all.
Live Search Maps has decent imagery of campus, but not great imagery.
Frank agreed that it would be great to have satellite shots integrated with the map, but we really do seem to be lacking the quality of image that would make it worthwhile.
The answer to number three is…um…huh? Could you be a little more specific about what you want to see in 3D? Virtual renderings? Something similar to what you can do with spaces in Second Life? Panoramas? Movies? (Both of those last two are not only possible, but already in place in rough format.)
I don’t see any mention of searching by building name, but I presume this will be a feature. It would be very nice to search by department or office name, too. For example, I look in the campus directory and find the office I need to visit is at Ste 400 Seneca Place On The Commons. Can I look that up? (I realize it’s off campus, but lots of places are, and more will be.
Yes, searching by building name is an option. My bad for not mentioning it. It’s actually how I made the graphics from the previous post, as I find the zoom feature a little clunky at the moment. You can also search by building code (that’s what those four-digit numbers are next to the names on the screen shots are) if you know what they happen to be. Frank was rattling them off the top of his head at the meeting. Meanwhile, I have been at Cornell since Moses was a pup and had no clue that we even HAD numerical designations for each building.
I don’t imagine that searching by department is out of the realm of possibility. Even if that data is not in Frank’s massive database right now, I think it could probably be added without too much fuss.
As for whether or not a given location is “off campus” or not…well…let’s just say that Frank indicated that he considers all of Tompkins County “campus” and leave it at that. So, sure. In theory, it could find the Alumni Offices downtown for you.
And Michael suggested:
Please make the software PDA and Smart Phone compatible.
Could it display bus routes? We currently are always printing out maps to give people directions so a nice print friendly view is essential especially if we could put directions, like a digital highlighter.
In theory, it can. And when I say “theory”, I mean that all that is necessary to make this happen is for the bus route data to be added.
I love the concept of a digital highlighter. So much so, in fact, that it was on my own wish-list for this project. That would be a real service to campus visitors.
In addition, if we are totally replacing the printed version we will need a way to print high quality ones for brochures.
I am told that the Office of Publications and Marketing (who are responsible for the printed maps we all know and love) are busily working with printers to make it possible to get high-quality versions of the new map. Something to do with color separations. Once this is all sorted out, the printed maps will be generated from the new source in a similar manner to how they are now. If you need a high-quality map for a brochure, you would go to OPM–the same as you (presumably) do now.
As a reminder, the print function from the web version of these maps is still somewhat lacking in that users will have to navigate through their browser to show the portion they wish to print and then use the browser’s print functionality to make it happen. This is something that Frank and his crew are working on.
What about construction is it going to be able to change to show campus construction barriers? Or road closings and detours so when we give directions they are accurate for those of us who don’t travel to other parts of campus.
This also came up during the 12/12 Forum meeting and the answer is the same as many of the above…that is, it’s totally do-able, man. It’s just a matter of getting that data into the database.
One of the challenges we’re going to face with this project is scope. As you can see from my answers above, just about anything is possible with the right application of data and dollars. In terms of what’s on the map that gets hosted on cornell.edu, we’ll have to gather all the requirements and wish-lists and compost them down into a manageable pile.
The good news is that we don’t have to be the exclusive host for this map. It’s perfectly reasonable for the Hotel School to have it’s own version that has features suited to their needs. And Transportation can have a version with the bus routes. And someone else can have a version that shows the location of every single plaque, dedicated bench, and memorial tree on campus. (You laugh, but I know people who would love that.)
I’m still holding out for tracking the parking folks.
Happy Holidays, everyone. See you in 2008!
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,
If I were the superstitious sort, I would be wondering whether or not my last entry about the weather stuff is behind the sudden arrival of Winter to Ithaca.
It’s a full twenty-degrees warmer in Minsk right now.
Totally my bad.
Here are a few things for your consideration:
- The Intercampus Initiatives site was recently launched and is linked to from the Collaborative Culture section of cornell.edu.
You will probably notice that it has the cornell.edu grey nav bar. I assure you, this was intentional.
We have also launched two new wiki-based sites aimed at campus web developers.
- The Web Forum site is used to announce topics for our monthly meetings and share information and materials from those meetings.
- The Cornell Web Knowledgebase is a developing set of resources for those who work in the web at Cornell. I urge you all to go take a poke around in there and add/edit things as you see fit. This project will only work if the community gets behind it.
Both of the above sites should be viewable to anyone in the world, but you will need a Cornell net-id to edit or add content.
And, speaking of WIKIs…
There are at least three external WIKIs about Cornell. (Drop me a line or comment if you know of others?) None of these are officially sponsored, but all should be editable by anyone who signs up for an account.
- Cornell Wiki (login required to see content–account is free)
- CUWiki (No login needed to see content–account needed to edit pages)
- Cornell on Wikipedia (Yes, I am aware that they are using/misusing the old logo. There is a difference between omniscience and omnipotence.)
And, finally, I’d like to remind you all (but mostly Zac) about the nifty Email Notification Plugin that allows you to sign up for, well, email notification of updates to this blog. Look to the right. There it is nestled between LINKS and ARCHIVE. Just type in your email address (Zac) and hit the button. You can, of course, also subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed. But then you have to remember to check it (Zac).
I’m not even kidding about Minsk,
PS. We’ve changed our URL to viewsource.web.cornell.edu. The old one will still work, but wouldn’t you rather be hip to the times and update your bookmarks to the new?
I’ll admit it. I am one of those people who semi-compulsively refreshes the Weather Page on cornell.edu. I’m not sure why, exactly. It’s just one of those places that I go when I am bored. I check the weather. I check the radar. I tell people it’s so that I know which blanket is appropriate sleepwear for my horse on any given night, but the truth of the matter is that I am a weather addict.
Thankfully, I am not alone in my affliction. cornell.edu stats show that, on average, that page sees 90,000 hits in any given month (more when the weather is bad).
So I’m sure that you, loyal readers, have noticed that something is amiss with our beloved Weather page. Where are those awesome icons of the clock tower in various weather conditions? You’ve probably also noticed that the Weather page has been sporting an error message about the forecast more often than not, lately.
I say this out of love, people. Put down the mouse and back away from the keyboard. There is no need to drop a note to the Webmaster mailbox. We know about the problem.
One would think that, in an age where we can surf the web on telephones, land rovers on Mars, and have a heavenly burrito made to our specifications, it would be fairly easy to pull in a weather feed and match it to some pictures. And, technically speaking, it is.
Except when it’s not.
Once upon a time, the Weather page data (this dates back to CUInfo and the original clock tower images, by the way) was taken from Cornell’s own Northeast Regional Climate Center. Specifically, it was pulled from a machine housed at the Ithaca airport. Machines can’t always be trusted, though (have you seen I, Robot??) and, on occasion, the script would crash, necessitating human intervention.
And by human intervention, I mean that former colleague and long-time NexusOfAllThingsCornell(TM) Tim Perry would pick up the telephone and call the guys out at the weather station to tell them their script was kaput. (I have always imagined that these intrepid climatologists had names like Piotr and Georg and spent their time in parkas and mad-bomber caps, but that’s just me.) They would re-start the sever and– Bob’s your uncle! –weather again!!
Recently, this script had been breaking more often than not and it was determined that poor Piotr and Georg were no longer reliable sources of information. So much for Glasnost, eh?
Our Programmer, Mark Fowler (whom I hesitate to call NexusOfAllThingsCornell(TM) just yet on account of not wanting him to run screaming into the night), has been poking around in the code and changed the source of the feed to be pulled from the National Weather Service which, in theory, should be more reliable than the old feed.
Problem is, the NWS does not call the weather conditions the same things that Piotr and Georg did, which means that our script that matches conditions (say…”sleeting and windy”) to the weather icons we’ve all come to know and love is now broken. Life is about trade-offs, my friends. Paper or plastic, smoking or non, weather or…not.
So, long story short: someone has to go in and manually re-assign keywords to the icons. This is not a difficult task–just time consuming. And not very high on our mile-long list of priorities, I’m sad to say.
I miss those icons, man.
Bon Voyage, Comrades,
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!)