Almost ready for Design Page

I’ve been working on my final project this week and have had a few technical wins!  I successfully learned how to insert a figure and figcaption into my site.  I’m still working on getting my figcaption margin right, but I’m close!  I’ve also looked over several slideshow apps to see what I might want to use on my Resources page.  Here is one of the sites I’ve found:cincopa.  I have a one issue in that my last set of images did not upload to Reclaim correctly.  I’m hoping it’s just a momentary issue and Reclaim will play nicely tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to getting your feedback tomorrow!

Link to my Design Project: Spanish Flu

How Interactive Should I Be?

The Lost Museum was very interesting.  I mean, who wouldn’t like a chance to travel back and in time and visit Barnum’s American Museum?  It also has a rich stock of primary documents and scholarly essays that students can access, while feeling a bit like they are playing a video game. That said, it is also daunting to think how long it took them to complete the project (8 years!) and how many different teams of historians, art directors, and techie folk worked on this project. It does support a point made during last week’s PhD Colloquium.  Lincoln Mullen, reminded us all how important it is for historians to reach out to other disciplines to collaborate on digital projects.  It often allows the historian to use new tools in interesting ways, while the geologists or IT faculty member has real data to test their theories.

Jason Brown’s paper on how the Lost Museum was created was also a cautionary tale in public history. First, most historians will not make a fortune creating that perfect history app (although maybe a great PlayStation game could do it!). Second, his discussion of the challenges of creating online learning objects is a reminder of how difficult it can be to leave room for critical thinking. You want to present the material, provide the history, but still allow the student to have moments to think critically on his or her own. You want to create that eighteenth-century curio cabinet, stay present to explain the history behind the objects, but still let the viewer/participant make the linkage – such a hard thing to do. I think they were very successful in creating that feel – but I can still see student passively playing the game and ignoring those “linkage” moments!

I’m still contemplating whether I would use a poll or survey in my website. Not only am I unsure what subject or question I would “poll” but whether I want the burden of curating the poll on a regular basis. Something more to mull over as I work on my site!

This week I made a radical change in my project. I realized I had a more recent paper that was full of images sitting on a shelf that was made for a digital project. So I said goodbye to the Skipwith family and hello to the Spanish Flu! I redesigned my website (I’m slowly beginning to understand the logic of Dreamweaver, although I still have some glitches I can’t seem to correct!) and am working hard on cleaning up my many images! Here is an example of my latest cropping, coloring, and vignetting:

General Grippe

I may be getting addicted to this!  Is there a 12-step program for this? :)

I commented on Jenna’s Page this week!

Another Day, Another Page on my Website

I feel like every week I say, “This has been a challenging week,” but this week may have presented more frustrations and victories than all the rest! My first problem was the angle of my photograph, which made the house in the image appear off kilter. Dr. Petrik walked me through the steps to correct this, but we cropped too soon and I lost too much of the original photograph. I also was having trouble with the magnetic lasso tool until I realized that you needed to click and draw, not just draw!

When I arrived home after class, I immediately fired up Photoshop and took another stab at reorienting my image. This time I had success! I then began colorizing the image and before I knew it I only had a few elements left to colorize, but it was not 1:30 at night. I decided to sleep rather than finish the image. The next day I completed my colorizing and was feeling quite accomplished.

I now had all my images complete and I only had to design my “Image Page.” While doing this I realized that several of my images had been saved with large pixel coordinates, causing my images to escape beyond the boundaries of my page. I headed back to Photoshop to re-save my images at a proper size for a webpage. Four hours later I had my page built and my new pages uploaded to my server. I made additional changes over the weekend, but here is the current version: Visualizing a Southern Republican Home. I’m sure after class on Monday I’ll have a few more changes to make!

I also found the readings on accessibility to be very helpful, especially the 10 tips. I ran my webpage through the WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool only to discover that my webpage was missing the important language designation (<html lang=”en”>). I’ve now added it to all my pages. I still need to go back and add alternative text to all my images. It appears that web design is never done!

I commented on Josh’s and Tamara’s blog post.  Awesome work by both! :)

So many images!

This week I continued working on the images for my Image Page. Several of us met at the library to work together as we restored our photos.  I took the image of the South Carolina slave quarters and continued to refine my restoration by using the healing brush. The image was looking good, but the figures in the yard were hard to see or bring into focus.   Since we had been playing with the burn and dodge tool, I decided to lighten up those figures by applying the dodge tool to the figures in the foreground. Once I felt I had cleaned up most of the image, I then turned my attention to cutting my stereograph in half and layering one half on the other in an effort to replicate a 3-D image. I was planning on using the same method we used in class to cut out the cat, but I was having trouble completing the steps. Lacy came to the rescue by pointing out a few my settings were wrong in photoshop and reminding me to make a copy after I loaded a selection.   But even as I successfully layered the images, I wasn’t satisfied with what I was producing so I sent off a quick email to Dr. Petrik to double check I was on the right track.   Once she explained I should set my layers off by just a pixel I really began to see results. Here is my final project.

slave quarters in SC cb curves with rt layer on top

I then turned my attention to creating a vignette. Using the image of Sara Skipwith Sinclair, a member of the Skipwith family (the focus of my project), I used the instructions I found on the Photoshop Essentials webpage. In just a few quick steps I had created this vignette!

SSSinclaircopy

I have not yet completed a colorized image. I’m a bit intimidated by this process, so I thought I’d wait until we played with colorizing in class on Monday. I have watched a good portion of Lynda.com, but I’m still a little wary of all his files! One thing I do know is that I will use a far less detailed image than John Derry’s photograph of Teddy Roosevelt!

I commented on Pearl’s blog!

 

Restoring my faith in Photoshop

I began this week somewhat confused about how to get anything done in Photoshop, but by the end of the week I feel like I’m finding my way around and even understanding how to restore photos! On Friday a group of us played around with matting and engraving as well as testing out some restoration techniques. It took a little while to recreate what we did in class, but by end of our meeting we each had an image matted and engraved! Here is what I created:

south carolina slave quarters with caption copy copy

My first attempt at restoration was not very satisfactory and I couldn’t seem to get the “patch” tool to work correctly.   So I attempted to “heal” my image again using the instructions in the article That Wicked Worn Look, but again did not meet with much success. I did, however, color a few items on this photo of my mother:

colorized mom

I’m not sure if this was taken while she was a student at Kent State or while she was newly married to my father and he was teaching at Athens College. Really the place is irrelevant, although I’m sure it would have influenced the color of her corsage! I tried coloring her lips as well, but that was a disaster!

But back to restoration! I now turned to help from our good friend Lynda. At last I began to get results and was successfully utilizing the Photoshop tools.  I used an image I downloaded from the New York Public Library, entitled, A Plantation Scene in South Carolina.  Here is the original image I used:

slave quarters in SC

Here it is after using the healing tools, including the patch tool, which I really like!

slave quarters in SC healed 1

On this image I created a new layer, used the paint brush and darkened the left side of the image, then used Gaussian blur. I originally used black as directed in the lesson, but she was working on a black and white image. I decided it made more sense to use a brown tone that better matched the image color.

slave quarters in SC healed 2

Finally I used to used the color balance and curves tools in this restoration, which I actually think is the most successful!

slave quarters in SC cb curves

One of the other things I realized during this process, was that I should probably have downloaded the GIFF of this image from the Library of Congress instead of the JPEG as I think this will not expand well.

I commented on Mark’s blog

The Intriguing Case of Using Images in Your Website

I was hoping to totally redesign my “Type” page and start work on my “About” page of my website this week, but I spent too much time working on a take-home exam for my Antebellum South class and grading papers to get that ahead. I learned a great deal about images this week and decided that when editing images for a historical site one should hold to the “News Photo” standards. Just like a news photo, historical images are presenting a viewpoint and truth that we as historians should not alter. That doesn’t mean we can’t resize or crop to bring attention to details, but we shouldn’t be photoshopping in elements that were not there originally. I did think the section on illustrations was interesting and something to consider, especially using type as an illustration. It already has me thinking of how I might use type as illustration in my site. I also loved the article on the Case of the Inappropriate Alarm Clock. I’m not sure that I agree with James Curtis that we should censor the New Deal photographers for manipulating the composition of their photographs. I do think it’s important to know that this was done when applying historical interpretation of the images. It allows us to discuss what was the intent and purpose of the FSA photographers. Was their goal to only present journalistic reality (whatever that was in the 1930s) and only capture moments of reality? Or was their goal to use artistic techniques to tell the story of Depression Era America in an effort to support New Deal legislation? And as important, how does knowing that they did move objects change our interpretation of the past? I actually have my students in my Women’s History class read an article about Florence Thompson by David McCormack that discusses the reality of Lange’s Migrant Mother image, so I think it is important to discuss motivation and reality.

I also enjoyed working through Dr. Petrik’s tutorial on Photoshop. I couldn’t find her image the “Home Guard,” and so I used another print I found on the Library of Congress Site. It took me a little while to make the conversion from Paula’s PS directions to my PS CC 2015, but in the end there were only minor differences and I had no problem creating a new image. This is what I created:

slave women mat

I’m looking forward to finding the right line image for my website and use this technique to create artwork for my website headers!

I commented on Pearl’s and Lacy’s Post

A Little Help from my Friends, or Unleashing the Mysteries of Embedded Fonts

This has been a week of discoveries. With Josh’s help, I finally was able to embed a font successively. I had been trying to use Google Fonts, but what Josh and I discovered is that you can’t download those fonts to your computer which means you can’t embed them simply into the CSS sheet. So I went online, found a free version of Alice Font and downloaded it onto my computer. From there you insert the following code into your CSS Sheet:

@font-face {

font-family: myalice;     *Note you make up the name of the font-family

src: url url(alice/Alice-Regular.ttf);     * The highlighted section is the name of downloaded file
}

Then when you designate the font-family elsewhere in your CSS sheet you call it by the name you gave it, so in my case that would be “myalice.” Pretty simple – thank you so much Josh!

In looking over my type page I soon discovered some odd coding I swear I never put into my site (code-gremlins?) which was overriding background colors. Once that was deleted things started looking better. I played around with colors using Paletton and revised my colors on my site. This then led me to revise my column sizes and footnotes margins. Before long things began to improve. I’m still working on dividing the columns as Paula suggested. I found an interesting article on using columns that I’m hoping will help me make those changes: Practical Tips for Utilizing Columns of Text in Your Layouts.

The other thing I discovered this week is that the Lynda tutorial on Photoshop CC for Web Design is not using Photoshop CC 2015, which is what I have. This means that some of the interfaces are different and you can’t always follow the directions given. Luckily, Lynda has a tutorial called, Photoshop CC 2015 One-on-One: Fundamentals, which updates you on the differences. I highly recommend watching this short tutorial so you can keep up with the other lessons.

What I have learned this week is that you are never finished “improving” your website and that a little help from your friends is important to not losing your mind while designing.   So looking forward to playing with images!

I commented on Kate Miller’s page.

Creating a “Type” Page

This week has been challenging as I worked to create my “Type” page. I was able to get far on my own, but on Friday several of us worked together to figure out the various issues we had been struggling with on our own.   Pearl, Josh, and I traded ideas and websites to complete our pages. I’m looking forward to feedback in class this week to see how close I’ve come to creating an attractive and effective website. Click on this link to view my “Type” page.

I commented on Danielle’s, and Josh.

A Font, a Font, My Kingdom for a Font!

This has been an interesting week as I thought about type. I did spend a bit of time playing with Google fonts that you can download and insert into your webpage for free. One of the nice things about this app is that they provide an indicator to let you know whether using that combination of fonts will slow down the load time on your webpage. I identified several fonts, but am currently happy with the ones I’ve chosen. We’ll see if Dr. Petrik agrees! The other issue is whether you need to create a family of fonts?  If I use a font like “Alice” do I need to pair it with other fonts to create a font family?

I began working on my “Type” page this week. The Lynda.com video quickly walked me through the way to create new pages and I began inserting my paragraphs. I easily added a new image and my pull quote. But then there is a long list of other items I still am considering or have questions concerning. What to do about those pesky endnotes? I reread Paula’s article on footnotes – but have to agree am a little confused by how the different styles would appear on the website. I googled some other sources and found instructions by Christopher Heng, the self-described “site wizard,” on how to create the simple <sup> styled endnote with links so the reader doesn’t have to scroll up and down. However, Paula noted in her paper that this can cause visualization issues as well as problems if you forget to add the return link. As I mentioned in class, I was really interested in the hide/show version endnotes that pops the information out right in the text. Type on Screen by Ellen Lupton provided another use of this technique this week and also included very cool cursor options that caught my attention. After a little googling I did find instructions by Will Master on how to insert hide/show code into my site, although I have to admit the code may be too complicated for me to handle! The other problem with this method is that a visitor would not be able to print out your citations unless you created a separate citation page. So much to think and consider . . . I see hours of my life disappearing over this one issue! I also am not sure what we’re required to do with leading, line length and a rule, but I’m figuring we’ll learn about that in class on Monday.

I forgot to link my comments!  I commented on Pearl and Josh

Typology and My Portfolio Page

This week I worked long and hard on my website. I watched the video, I conferred with coding websites, I wrote and rewrote code and yet I could not get my columns to do what I wanted. Eventually I realized the problem was the on my CSS sheet. You need to tell those pesky items where to go on the page. It was a revelation. The other thing I realized is that there is more than one way to place items so they appear to be in columns. I have not yet learned which is better, but I’m wondering if that will become more apparent when we make our sites compatible with mobile devices. Reading over the options when creating a page for mobile devices already has me thinking of what that might do to my simple, tidy page.

The other element that has caused me to go back and revise my site is typology! I worked on the site first and then read the articles, which this week, may have been a mistake. As I read about the magic of Georgia or Baskerville in Errol Morris’s article, I wondered if this could really be true. Are we really sublimely affected by the font we choose? It’s a terrifying thought that a font can make a professor decide to give a student a better grade! Although I am contemplating writing all my papers (dissertation?) in Georgia from here on out. When I read the chapters on type in Robin Williams, Non-Designers Design Book, I realized I really needed to revisit the type I had chosen on my website. Had I created a conflicted page? Had I used enough contrasts or the correct contrasts to create an effective page? So back to my website I went and I changed font, adjusted widths, and worked on colors. I think it’s a better page design now, but I’m still mulling over the type I’ve chosen and whether I should change it yet again.

The only problem I still have that I haven’t successfully solved is my FTP connection. Reclaim Client Portal says they have no record of client with my email, so I can’t log in or find the username/password I need. I found the email they sent me originally to sign in, but that is currently not working. So I’ve sent an email off to Reclaim Support and hopefully will have an answer soon!

Finally, I also found Alan Jacobs article on The Technology of a better Footnote very interesting. I agreed with his contentions that many of the current forms of footing noting in electronic books and articles can be distracting. I loved the Instapaper solution and wonder if there is a simple code work-around to create this in our own work. I actually thought that Instapaper was an interesting app and signed up for it as well. Considering the many articles we read online, it’s a great app to gather all those online sources in one place and make those great notes on the articles.

** Update on my Reclaim issues — I evidently linked the site not to my GMU or NVCC email, but to my own personal email account!  Too many email accounts to keep up with!!!  I must also give a shout out to the Reclaim folks.  They answered my email and solved all my issues within 5 minutes!  Reclaim Hosting is awesome.

I commented on Danielle’s Blog.

*** I was inspired by and commented on Jenna!  Here is a link to my Portfolio Page.

Learning to be a Designing Historian

The Technology:

I’m not ashamed to say that I have experienced moments of great anxiety this week. I hit a wall when I tried to create my FTP using Transmit. It kept asking for my server and I was unsure of what information I needed to supply. Luckily, Pearl saved the day by pointing out we had an FTP built in to Reclaim, the domain hosting service we adopted in Clio 1. I thought I had hit the same brick wall with the server using Reclaim, until I took a deep breath and read the instructions closely. “Deep breath” should always be step one in every technical instruction manual! I’m using the FTP, Cyberduck, which was recommended by Reclaim and, so far, all has gone well transferring files.   Following the videos on Lynda.com, I also am currently creating my Portfolio Website. I used Dreamweaver years ago, but it has really evolved and I’m excited to start playing with the tools it now has.

The Readings:

I thoroughly agree with the advice Golombisky and Hagen offered in the assigned chapters of White Space is Not Your Enemy, as most of my favorite websites are those that chunk the information in discreet bits with plenty of “white space.” I really dislike clicking on a website to find an endless page of text.   In my opinion, websites should not feel like digital books, which is what Golombisky and Hagen are advising us to avoid. The design advice is similar to what we’ve read in Clio 1 and what I’ve learned in the past from NVCC’s Instructional Designers. The most important part in the design phase has to be creating that initial storyboard. This week, I’ve already begun thinking what I want my Individual Project to be and what assets I need to begin gathering. I’m looking forward to our first class to learn more about that project.

Now I know that some of my fellow classmates are big fans of “big data” and will want to include all sorts of charts and graphs in their work, but after reading Knaflic’s, Storytelling with Data, I am more firmly convinced “big data” is not for me. Although I totally understood and agreed with her advice, I also found my brain turning off as I viewed graph after graph. I agree an occasional simple chart or graph is important to support our findings and display data, but I doubt that I’ll be using the more complicated graphs she demonstrated. I totally agree with Knaflic that pie charts are worthless and I hate 3-D graphs!

Donald Norman’s article, Attractive Things Work Better, supported much that Knaflic, Golombisky and Hagen had written. It applied the science behind why we like clean, simple design and highlights how important it is to focus on design. When writing a paper, we don’t worry about design as long as we follow the rules of the Chicago Manual of Style, but Norman explains why we do need to be concerned about the design of our website. A poorly designed website could possibly hinder our message! Suddenly storyboarding takes on as important significance as our research.

As a teacher, I know how important credible websites are for our students. Having created multiple online activities I have spent hours looking for websites where I know I can trust the scholarship. Stanford’s Guidelines should be on every digital historian’s Zotero list. Not only are the 10 guidelines sensible and easy to follow, but the research citations provided are worth perusing as well.

Until I enrolled in Clio 2 I might have argued with Stephen Ramsey that knowing code was a requirement to consider oneself a digital historian. After building a beta-site using Omeka and creating interactive, geo-rectified maps in Clio 1, I considered myself a digital historian, but now that I’m in a course where I will be learning a little code, perhaps I don’t need to start that argument. Seriously, Ramsey’s articles, Who’s in and Who’s Out and On Building, make a strong case for defining what differentiates between a digital historian and a historian who uses digital tools. I’m taking digital history classes, but I don’t plan on being a digital historian. Even after taking Clio 2 I will still define myself as a social historian who uses digital tools (and knows a little code?). My colleagues who are earning a PhD as a Digital Historian have knowledge in tools and technology that I will never have and it would be as incorrect for me to assume the designation of Digital Historian as it would to call myself an Economic Historian.

Having absorbed these first lessons, I’m taking a deep breath, watching more of the videos and continuing my experimenting with Dreamweaver. It will be interesting to see what we all end up creating by the end of the course!

I commented on Pearl’s Blog: Finding History and Danielle’s Blog: Barely A Historian