Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Here's What's New...

New student assistant #1 is doing well, trained easily, and sufficiently dislikes her task of data entry, for which I cannot blame her. But somebody has to do it, right? That's why she gets paid the big bucks! New student helper #2 chose not to return, but sent her friend to interview for the position. Which she did, and I hired her, but she has yet to show up. Sigh. So in the meantime, I'm scanning and sorting/filing slides, along with all the other things that need to be done. The nice thing is that we have fewer and fewer slides to deal with, so I may just have assistant #2 do data entry instead of filing. What a relief to not have to train someone on the filing system again.

ITguy came over to look at my database conversion project and I think he was expecting something a little more basic. He assured me that if he couldn't do it, he'd get help from someone who could. So now there is a team of techies somewhere across campus working on my database, theoretically. He asked me when I needed it and when I told him this semester, he said "oh." Doesn't sound promising, but I will keep happy thoughts.

More later on the latest image-hosting developments, but for now, back to the grindstone.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Where Did Summer Go?

Classes start next Monday! That's just crazy-talk! As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to have my image database up and running (although I had no intention of populating it at this point), but I at least wanted to be able to say, "hey! look at what I did this summer!" and hit the ground running.

Well, it's close enough, I guess. Tables and fields are created, layout has been established. Just can't get those macros. I surrender! I give in for the reason I converted to Access: because I can get on-campus help. They are having an "open house" Thursday afternoon for faculty and staff to drop by for assistance or training. Thank goodness!

I will be glad to put this behind me so I can get back to the fun stuff: like training new student assistants! (just kidding!)

Back to scanning,

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


These days I just can't seem to make up my mind: FMP or Access. FMP Advanced has that groovy web-publishing thing now, which was enough to convince me that I should make our (temporary) Image Repository in that format. But of course there are compatablility issues, what with me being the ONLY person on campus that uses the software. No problem, I can publish it in kiosk mode. Sweet! Now my faculty can enjoy my database without the department investing in 900 gazillion license agreements. Oh yeah, without the server edition, only FIVE people can use it at once. That would be great if I could put everyone on a schedule, and I don't see that happening.

So Friday I had an epiphany: why not use Access? Really, most of the reasons I had against it were just personal preference. When I thought about it logically, it is the right choice for this project. Since this database will be shared, it's best to use a program that is supported on campus and that everyone basically has access to (he-he!).

Again, it's just a temporary solution, until we get a proper delivery system. So I will make the most of both worlds: I will keep my backend in FMP, and the "front end" in Access.

Now I just need to relearn Access. Ugh.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Here's the Situation...

Like all VRL's, we need server space. It would be awesome if I could walk into the office one day and find the IT Fairy left me some under my mousepad. It should be simple, just call IT, say I need space, and they say OK and it will cost this much to maintain. Cool. But for some reason, it's just not that easy. I could just set up a computer in the VRL and use that as the server, and network the other computers. Nope. No peer-to-peer connections allowed. Thanks Napster. I've been told that I can buy a server, and IT'd be more than happy to work with me. Chair says nope. No money for that. So no peer-to-peer, no space, no server. And the magic solution has to come out of my measly budget. What's a VRC to do?

Think outside the box.

I've seen a few interesting options that I'm seriously considering. Amazon's got an interesting sideline going with offering to host server space with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). Windows Skydrive is another option. It's in Beta, so that kind of worries me that it won't stay around, but I think that one's free. FREE!

So I'm hoping to implement something soon, since the fall semester's coming quickly. not necessarily for faculty use yet, but to at least get something out there to show that we are indeed making progress.

I'd be curious if anyone else has considered these options--are they all you hoped and dreamed for?!


UPDATE TO POST: I noticed that Skydrive has a limit of 5GB now, not sure if that's a recent change, but there it is nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


After my futile efforts on Google's blog search, the good folks in VRA came through and flooded me with tons of blogs dedicated (mostly) to Visual Resources. It gave me some really good ideas for, yes, another blog! I realize now that where Digital Nugget is heading is more VRCurator-centric rather than VRLibrary-centric, and both have a place in the blog roster. I'm sure I would have eventually ended up in the same place, but the VRA folks drew my attention to it a little sooner.

So now I'm all excited about the VRLibrary-centric blog as well, and can see how it would be such a useful tool to communicate with my faculty, and provide resources to them all in one place, rather than sending out random emails that often get overlooked.

Now if there was only a way to access our digital images from the blog...(I'm sure there is, but just thinking about it makes my brain bleed...)

More coffee, please!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


So this is my work blog. I noticed that there weren't too many out there about Visual Resources, and instead of blathering on and on about such things in my personal blog, I decided to have another one devoted to the ins and outs of the life of a Visual Resources Curator such as myself. I'll try to keep this fairly professional, but not too stuffy, because that's not really how I roll. Hopefully it will find an audience of like-minded, OCD-types such as myself, who enjoy playing with slides, cataloguing art images and learning how to be IT people and Database Administrators without the benefit of those salaries.

In September, I will have been VRC here for 11 years. I claim in no way to be an expert in my field, for many reasons, but mostly because our profession is evolving at an astounding rate. This is certainly not the same job that I was hired for! But that's a good thing. Change is good. Technology is good. It's not easy, but it's good.

We (and by "we" I mean the collective Visual Resources Library "we," which consists of me, and the ever-changing cast of occasional student helpers) maintain a collection of approximately 130,000 slides of art images that are used for teaching art and art history courses at our university. Of those images, I have digitized around 21,000. As of yet, we don't have an efficient delivery system for the digital images, but I'm working on that (we'll discuss this later in another post). It is the dream, the vision, the seemingly elusive goal.

So in the meantime, I just keep on scanning (and photoshopping, and databasing....)

Back to work,