Aid activities for the Great East Japan Earthquake through collaboration via wiki
input from museum, library, archive, kominkan = MLAK
20,000 data of damaged area
Information about places, damages, and relief support
build synergy with twitter
have offline meet ups & training
Andrew Nagy – Vendors Suck
vendors aren’t really that bad
used to think vendors suck, and that they don’t know how to solve libraries’ problems
but working for a vendor allows to make a greater impact on higher education, more so than from one university (he started to work for SerialsSolution)
libraries’ problems aren’t really that unique
together with the vendor, a difference can be made
call your vendors and talk to the product managers
if they blow you off, you’ve selected the wrong vendor
sometimes vendor solutions can provide a better fit
Andreas Orphanides – Heat maps
The library needed grad students to teach instructional sessions, but how to set schedule when classes have a very inflexible schedule? So, he used the data of 2 semesters of instructional sessions using date and start time, but there were inconsistent start times and duration. The question is how best to visualize the data.
Layar allows for mobile app development using GPS/Geolocation to provide more information and image recognition to make things/the environment more interactive. Layar is available on the Apple app store and Android.
Advantages: Drupal module, centralized database to search for all layars
Disadvantage: not available on iPod Touch (presumably not on iPad either).
I think the ideal would really be to create a mobile app that helps the user do just about everything. Wayfinding, searching, find general information (such as hours), find item information (including reviews/ratings), find availability to computers, etc.
What was interesting about the discussions we had was talking about how best might it be implemented with the technology that we have today. Apparently, the University of Illinois developed an app that tells users where to find an item on the shelf using signal strength positioning, but we could imagine it going very wrong especially around a lot of metal shelving. Would it be better to not have it at all than to direct a user to the wrong place? I imagine many would say yes.
Obviously, there are pros and cons to every method, but I think I concluded that if you were to develop a mobile app with the technology we currently have without spending an enormous amount of time on it, the app would work better with image recognition (something a la layar vision or QR codes) combined with input from the user.
For example, if a user wanted to find books on a particular subject, an app would ask what subject the user would like to find, then use GPS to direct them to the branch (for multi-branch campuses) if applicable, then once in the branch, it would pop up a mini-map for the user directing them to that particular subject on the shelf. If at any time they get lost, they just need to scan the appropriate image and the app could come up with a new mini-map providing a path from their current position to the shelf with the subject they’re looking for.
The advantages of a dynamic path map versus real-time positioning is that positioning technology is still not very accurate, and most users will not give apps more than one or two chances before deciding whether it’s useful or not.
Hopefully we can get the layar one public and then rather than simply showing a short video, we can have people try the app themselves.
[Update March 4, 2013] – As of March 5th, 2013, twitter will no longer support unauthenticated feeds of any kind and will be dropping support for RSS altogether (meaning you can only get JSON feeds). Therefore, you will need to make your own (see comments for one suggestion) or use an app to follow specific feeds. Continue reading →
Summon is Serials Solutions’ web scale discovery tool. I think so far, it looks pretty good. It has all the things you’d want these days in your searches including:
sidebar with different options to refine search
clean, easy to use interface
save citations to folder and export
advance search, including ISBN for books
Currently, all records in the catalogue, institutional repository, and journal articles have been included. There’s also a locations refinement category to refine to a specific branch for catalogue materials.
It’ll be interesting to see what our users (including staff) think.
Quick Edit/Add-on: Seems like the major criticism I’ve heard is that it does not do known-item (that is you know what you’re looking for) searches well, but as my supervisor has explained, that’s not the purpose of a discovery tool. If you want to looking for something you know in a library, you use the source that will help you look for that. Some people might say “but look at google, it can do both well”, but even google scholar is unlikely to give you a book if you only enter a couple of words when you’re looking for a book (obviously that’s not true in all cases).
EDIT: I’ve been reminded/informed that this only works in Windows (or MS-DOS anyway) since it uses .bat files. The suggestion if you’re using other OSs is to use php (but really you can use anything) to automate the command.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with Adobe Acrobat (even if they haven’t actually used it). It’s a nice GUI if you want to edit PDFs, but at least as far as I know, it does not do any batch or automation work. For a digital images project, there’s a lot of automation work that needs to be done and for image to image conversion, I was using Photoshop, but then I started dealing with PDFs. Thus, it was only natural to turn to GhostScript.
PDF to Image
So, I don’t really get any credit for this, because it’s already out there and the variables are well explained. So if you want to turn all the pages of your PDF into images, check out this Danzels Internets post. My case was a little different because I only wanted the first page turned into an image as a thumbnail for an entire file and then for an entire folder. I also prefer to do any image modification (even batch) in an image program.
FOR %%Z IN (*.pdf) DO gswin32 -sDEVICE=jpeg -dJPEGQ=95 -dGraphicsAlphaBits=4 -dTextAlphaBits=4 -dDOINTERPOLATE -dFirstPage=1 -dLastPage=1 -sOUTPUTFILE=%%Z.jpg -dSAFER -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE %%Z
So, here the major changes are “gswin32″ because I use the Windows version, and the “-dFirstPage=1 -dLastPage=1″ so that the first and last page it processes is page 1. You can change the output file name too, so I changed it in such a way that it takes the original file name and adds the .jpg extension.
This is kind of a side note, because I didn’t need this for my project, but I recently downloaded some articles that for some reason had each section in a separate PDF. So, I get no credit for this one either as I got this one from Real’s How-to on Merging PDFs. I put this in here only for possible improvements of what’s presented on that site.
For the merging of PDFs in a directory, for the [merge.bat], you’re supposed to have this code:
gswin32 -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOUTPUTFILE=merged.pdf -dBATCH 1.pdf
FOR %%Z IN (*.pdf) DO IF NOT %%Z==1.pdf IF NOT %%Z==merged.pdf IF NOT %%Z==merged2.pdf call merge2.bat %%Z
Maybe it’s clear to other people, but the “1.pdf” is the name of the first pdf. I found that the subsequent ones will be added in alphanumeric order. Also, if you happen not to change the code, it will throw an error and insert a blank page at the beginning.
So, some people may ask, why are you trying to convert PDF to Wiki? PDF is usually the last step in the process, so just use the original document. My response would naturally be, what if you don’t have the original document?
A Two-Step Process
Through my searching and reading on the topic, it seems there is no PDF2Wiki Converter. Every site that I have read explains converting the PDF to one of: DOC, RTF, HTML, XML first then to wiki format.
I tried a number of PDF to HTML programs, but none of them worked to my satisfaction. Most of them only converted simple formatting, such as bold and italics. Adobe has an online conversion tool. It’s better than some of the others I’ve tried as it interprets lists and such. The resulting code is rather ugly and a lot of the code would need to be stripped before using a HTML to Wiki converter. See my previous post on HTML2Wiki for a couple of tools on tidying or stripping HTML code.
I found that a much better alternative was converting the PDF to a DOC/RTF file since it’s a lot simpler and some formatting might be lost, but you won’t have a lot of needless code that might mess up your wiki page. There are a lot of online tools that provide a PDF to DOC/RTF service, however, again, they only tend to do basic formatting. Adobe Acrobat does a really good job, because it will change lists into formatted lists (instead of normal text). The major downside of course is that Acrobat is a paid program though there is a 30-day trial.
I had a lot of problems in particular with PDF to HTML, so I thought PDF to DOC/RTF is simply. Honestly though, unless you have a PDF file which is really long and has a lot of simple formatting (bold, italics, etc.), if you cannot get your hands on Acrobat, then I suggest simply copy/paste (or alternatively save as a text file) and manually formatting it in the wiki’s editing box. Of course this depends on the wiki you’re using because ones that don’t have a toolbar to help you quickly format might be a bit of a pain. Someone please let me know if you have found a better method!
So to continue on ways to convert existing documents to wiki code, next is formatted text documents, which is typically word DOC files, but may also be something like RTF files.
Most sites I found actually just instructed people to use a 2 step conversion. From Word to HTML and then to wiki code. While this may work, it’s much less efficient and I can imagine more things are lost in the process. Admittedly, the converters that I have found are all geared towards MediaWiki, so if you’re using a different wiki then these converters may not work so well. Nevertheless, MediaWiki provides a list of Word to Wiki converters the most basic of which does not seem to be specifically geared to MediaWiki.
OpenOffice Sun Wiki Publisher Plugin (MAC and Windows compatible, not sure about other platforms)
(the wiki converter is built-in, the publishing part of it is optional)
The downside of OpenOffice is that it does not always interpret word documents very well. Embedded images tend to turn into hex code (ex. ffd8ffe000104a46494600010201 etc.) and tables aren’t always interpreted correctly either. The one I tried turned into overlapping text. So, in part, the usefulness of the outputted wiki code will depend on how well OpenOffice has read the word DOC itself, but it should handle ODT and RTF just fine.
Word2MediaWikiPlus Macro (Windows Only)
Word is the better choice for documents that OpenOffice can’t seem to handle very well. There is also a Word2MediaWiki Macro which is easier to use, but does not convert tables or deal with images very well.
For the OpenOffice plugin, ‘special characters’ (used loosely here) sometimes turn into weird symbols or random special characters. As with the HTML converters from the last post, something like ’ (not straight apostrophe) gets changed into ‚Äô, or a bullet point (which isn’t recognized to be in a bulleted list) turns into ‚Ä¢.
The Word2MediaWikiPlus (W2MWP) converter is better at dealing with special characters. The macro will simply insert the character as is and at times put a nowiki tag around it, but regardless, it displays just fine.
For some reason, the W2MWP plugin turns text boxes into a single cell table and then repeats the same text again as regular text (not inside a table). The OpenOffice plugin strips the text of formatting and leaves it as regular text in the wiki output.
When tables are interpreted correctly, I think the OpenOffice plugin does a better job overall. The W2MWP macro is better at keeping formatting, such as colours and border style (below right), but OpenOffice one seems to interpret things inside a table better, such as type of lists (below left). (It’s supposed to be a bulleted list, not a numbered list.)
Needs Good Original Document Formatting
In both cases, the usefulness of the wiki code will depend on how well the original document was formatted. For example, in one of the documents I tested, a number of the number and bullet lists were not formatted as such, but instead, numbers and bullets were just manually added. In both plugins, they were considered to be regular text with a ‘special’ character or number at the beginning of it.
Whether the Word2Wiki or the OpenOffice plugin is better depends on your priorities. OpenOffice seems to interpret lists and text boxes better, and doing a replace all for characters that weren’t interpreted properly is a pretty quick step. W2MWP is better at keeping formatting and interpreting all characters. So, if you like the way your document looks and you want to keep it that way, use the W2MWP macro. The big downside of course is that it doesn’t work on MACs (which I’m using right now, yay for VMware). Nevertheless, my conclusion is that the DOC2Wiki Converters are useful, but may not be the optimal solution depending on how much you’re willing to install and play around with. And if the document isn’t formatted like it should be, then manual wiki formatting might be the way to go.
So, for the past little while on and off, I’ve been looking for and playing around with HTML to Wiki Converters to see which one works best. Most of the ones I’ve found are online and most of them seem to be based on a Perl script created by David Iberri, who provides a web interface as well.
David Iberri has provided a running web interface version for his script for a lot of different wiki dialects. However, I’ve only tested the MediaWiki version for the purposes of my project. I really like the “Fetch from URL” feature which is not available on many others.
Interestingly, I found what looks to be the exact same converter on another site, but it gives me slightly different results. (see below)
Seapine’s HTML to Wiki
The one is really good for basic things and even though it does not have a “Fetch from URL” feature, you can easily copy/paste. However, this converter frequently broke for me when dealing with whole pages because it seemed to stop working when it faced something that it didn’t quite recognize.
Batch/Site HTML to MediaWiki converter
I have not actually tried this one, but I thought it might be a useful resource for later and for other people. This uses the same Perl script in combination with MediaWiki’s PHP importing scripts.
Comparison between HTML2Wiki and the berliOS version General Text
Neither deals with ’ (the non-straight apostrophe) very well for some reason, and I’m guessing it will have problems with some other characters as well. Currently, both give a � in place. However, if it’s always the same character in your wiki document, it’s easy enough to do a replace all.
Both seem to handle tables quite well and one as well as the other, though sometimes the Iberri one seems to forget to put the first line of the table code on a new line, which of course, means the table fails to work.
I would say that overall I like the berliOS version better for links because it can recognize anchor links, whereas the Iberri one will display text. For example (berliOS):
[#reserve Finding Articles on Course Reserve].
The Iberri one does a better job at “oh my god i don’t understand this” by simply stripping the HTML and leaving text. The berliOS one will try to interpret it and end up with odd things at times. However, I think it’s pretty understandable that it doesn’t handle mouse over boxes very well especially when the original script to do that is CSS and not a part of the HTML tag. For example (berliOS):
So overall, I like the berliOS one better because it recognizes more elements, but it’s easier to screw things up with it. So I would say the Iberri one is easier to use since it generally just strips what it doesn’t understand.
On a related footnote-sort note, after converting to wiki code, if there is a lot of HTML code left that seems to be messing up the wiki page, you can try stripping or ‘tidying’ the HTML code. HTML Tidy tries to make the HTML conform to current HTML standards, but depending on how the page is done, it might start creating CSS which obviously wiki pages don’t understand, so the strip HTML function may work better. Zubrag’s Strip HTML online tool HTML Tidy