Tag Archives: meta

Unit 13: IRLS 675 wrapup

How sad, we have come once again to the “final blog post” time of the semester! Since this time around, I’m going to try to make my final paper more formal, use the third person, and all that jazz, I guess this is my last opportunity to talk about what I got out of this class personally.

First of all, it was really great to try so many different kinds of applied technology. Sometimes it was a little challenging to figure out hard drive space issues with juggling around so many different VMs, but it was definitely worth it. When I think about how I was able to critically assess the different articles in the management portion of the class, my understanding of digital collections and issues of platform, customizability, and so forth was increased exponentially as the applied part of the class went on. Although 672 was a good beginning, actually getting hands-on experience with the kinds of software that digital collections managers are using and evaluating was a really empowering experience. Seeing what was similar and what was unique to each setup by actually installing and using it was a completely different experience than reading about each system’s capabilities, or even using sites that have been created using those systems.

The other thing that I want to emphasize about the applied technology portion is that its repetitive process of using similar procedures in different ways over time helped demystify things that I had done by rote before. This isn’t to say that I’ve become an expert at anything; a week or two isn’t enough time for that. But I do feel that I’m confident enough to try installing new software in a new VM — perhaps the museum collection management software mentioned in unit 14? — and know what to do with Apache to get it to work, know how to use wget or ftp to put files on the VM, etc., and actually know what those functions are doing, rather than doing them because that’s what the forum post said.

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Unit 11, week 2: Thoughts on VMs

This week’s assignment is to discuss using a pre-configured VM instead of building our own, for the purposes of this class.

I think that the repetitive nature of installing new VMs from scratch was generally good practice, and I don’t begrudge the time I spent repeating the same process multiple times throughout this class, and 672 before it. Especially since our instructions for completing each assignment varied (e.g., editing the repositories, using wget, using FTP, etc.), I think that by the end of the class, we’ve gotten to practice a number of different ways of doing the same thing and generally have an idea of our preferred methods and their pros and cons.

From that pedagogical perspective, it might have been interesting to vary the new VMs — running different distributions for each install, perhaps, instead of doing the same basic Ubuntu Server install over and over. I really liked having one unit (I think it was DSpace?) that used Tomcat instead of Apache, and PostgreSQL instead of MySQL. A lighttpd one might have been neat, too. On the other hand, I imagine the difficulty troubleshooting such different setups would have been frustrating for many, and for those with slow internet connections, downloading multiple distros would have been very time-consuming.

If the advantage to using pre-configured VMs would have been getting to spend more time playing with the installed program, I would argue that taking the time to install and configure that program gives a lot of depth and insight into its workings that merely using it pre-installed wouldn’t add.

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Unit 3: moving right along with Drupal and digital collections

I was kind of tempted to just post “argh!” for the response to the question re: workload this week. Yeah, I kind of brought this on myself, what with taking two other challenging classes and working full time and my volunteer project and attempting to have a life (I think it was doing a yoga class before my homework today that was my big mistake!), but it’s been a bit of a rough week. It reminds me of the “hard weeks” in 672 — and that’s just watching the videos, doing the readings, and doing the Drupal install and configuration. It’s not that it was “hard” in the sense that I couldn’t get something to work, either — it just took a decent chunk of time all week to get through everything, and I still have a few pieces left to do before Unit 3 is finished. Since 672 started out with “easy weeks,” moved into “hard weeks,” and had some “easy weeks” thrown in every so often even so, the pace for 675 is seeming a little more grueling. It feels like taking the hardest parts of 672 and adding on additional readings and discussion posts. (Yeah, there aren’t quizzes anymore, but the quizzes didn’t take much time and were pretty helpful for identifying whatever hadn’t been absorbed.)

On the other hand, the stuff we’ve been reading has been really interesting and probably will be helpful for future jobs, so I don’t want to say we should cut down on the reading. Ditto for the tech assignments and discussion. So I guess at this point, I’m feeling a little stressed out, but I’m not ready to cry uncle. I just keep looking at job postings for web developers (or “web ninjas,” as one particularly tempting posting I found this week put it) at libraries, and seeing how much of this stuff goes right into the experience they’re looking for, so I really like getting to learn it. I do wish it could slow down occasionally, but maybe it will soon.

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