Scalar

“Scalar is a free, open source authoring and publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online. Scalar enables users to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required.” – Scalar’s About website

I’ve spent the last few days transferring an annotated bibliography I’ve been working on into this Scalar website to test it out.  The demo I went to was about a year ago, but now is when I’ve really had time to focus on some new technologies to try out.

To start, a person creates a new “book”.  To this book they can add “pages” and “media” to the pages. There is a “Main Menu” on the right hand side to help users navigate through the book. That’s the simple version, but it can all be as simple or as complicated as the creator makes it out to be.  To better understand the confusion I had when I tried to use this tool, watch their own promo video:

Overall, I’ve found it to be a useful resource, but I’m a bit confused still as to what are the best types of work that can benefit from Scalar.  It’s definitely not a traditional novel.  I would liken it more to a series of articles or essays that were grouped together. It almost feels like putting together a website, but the connections and controls are slightly different.

A few things of note:

  • I could not get images from Flickr to appear
  • The site supports animated gifs
  • If the learning curve to get started was steep, it’s even worse when you try to figure out annotations
  • Not having a “Preview” option makes me worry it’ll look wrong when I’m done
  • There are not a lot of controls, you’ll have to add HTML and CSS to customize something as simple as Tables.
  • There is no way of really organizing the back end. If you have 100s of pages, you will have to scroll through the entire list to find it.
  • The word “The” is not discounted when listing things in alphabetical order (back end problem)
  • You can replace media files on the back end instead of deleting and re-uploading
  • Upload file size is capped at 2MB. It is easier if you do any pixel sizing before upload. I still haven’t figuered out if I can resize later because it’s not an intuitive feature.
  • supported file types for upload: css, gif, html, java, js, kml, jpg, m4v, mp3, mp4, pdf, png, txt, wav, xml / also available, but not always compatible: 3gp, aif, flv, mov, mpg, oga, tif, webm

I’m still very confused about the upkeep of what I created.  I get that its a free open source tool in beta, but that usually means “take our code and install it into your system” not “upload all your stuff into our serverss for free”. There’s no FAQs page and their forums are near empty. But, overall I liked the tool and I’m going to finish the project I started so I can show it to others.

Facebook Groups and Pages

With a Facebook account you can create Pages and Groups. I was only vaguely aware of this until today.  I have both versions on my FB page, but I didn’t really think about why they were different.  On my work FB I help admin the Libraries Facebook page which I’ve been calling Community without realizing how this related to Facebook terminology.  It is a Community, which is a subsection of Page, which vaguely resembles a regular personal FB.  It can a get a bit confusing.

Screen shot 2014-01-21 at 11.07.16 AM

This is where you select a Page

I have been unknowingly following several Facebook Pages without really being aware of it.  For example, I follow the page for Tate’s Comics store in Ft. Lauderdale and receive feeds from them. This is not the same as the personal FB page for the owner of Tate’s comics. On my work FB I have admin rights to the University of Miami Libraries Page.

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Typing into PowerPoint during the Presentation

I’m using Office 2010.  I can’t believe no one noticed when I did this during the live presentation.

Here is the link to the tutorial I used: InternetClassroom.com. I’m not sure which version of PowerPoint they are using, but below are the 2010 instruction.

  1. Make a new slide where you want this feature to come in
  2. Under “Developer” in the section “Controls” you will see the text box feature
  3. Add into the slide whatever size you want, wherever you want.
  4. You can adjust it later by clicking in the box. The edit features will turn on

PPtextboxSample

 

NOTE: While you are typing in presentation mode, in order to go to the next line, you must press the Shift key at the same time as the Return (or Enter) key.

That’s it.  I’d say “amaze your co-workers”, but mine didn’t even notice I’d done anything out of the norm of our usual presentations.

Viewing websites inside of PowerPoint

And when I say viewing websites I mean without having to exit the PowerPoint presentation in the middle.  This can be done, though it seems that currently, it’s only possible if you only visit one page and don’t try to click anything within that page.  For the purposes of my last presentation, this was perfectly acceptable. I am using Office 2010.

The trick is a program called LiveWeb. That’s the most of it really. Once you have that installed on your computer (and the computer you are presenting from if different) you are set to go. Make sure you have PowerPoint closed. Once you install and re-open PP, you will see a new future on the toolbar under Insert:

Once you add the website, you can adjust where and how large on your slide you want it.  My slide from NMC card game looks like this:

PPwebSample

You can find all the instructions on the link for LiveWeb or read them here below the cut:

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Sharpen Images with High Pass filter

For years I’ve been using Unsharp Mask to sharpen images. That’s the way I was taught 10 years ago. The other day I hear from someone else recently graduated from a photo program, to try High Pass. and yeah, it works pretty good.

Here’s the link to the tutorial I used: http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-editing/sharpen-high-pass/

A less fancy step by step in case the link above breaks

Word to Acrobat cutting off text

I was given a standard 11×8.5 Word docx file that needed to be printed 17×13. I couldn’t find a way to enlarge the file from Word with the text included. I could only enlarge the paper size. So I export to pdf so I can better control the printing on the plotter. For some reason, the new pdf file decided to cut the lower part of some of the text.

On my PC the text in the docx file looked fine, but when I transferred it over to the Mac is when I noticed that even in the file the letters were getting cut off. Of course on the Mac I’m met with a new problem when the school library logo at the top suddenly decides to outline itself when the file is converted to PDF.

Facepalm.

Solution: Take modified docx file from the Mac and then convert to PDF on the PC.