Hello, world!

First thing to do on Day of DH: check to see what my Day of DH blog looks like.  Yikes, how embarrassing!  It’s still displaying the auto-generated post created by some mysterious process pretending to be me!  And look, there’s a comment by Mr. WordPress.

Second thing to do: add a comma after “Hello” in the obligatory “Hello, world!” title of post number 1, so as to appear slightly more grammatically correctly than the aforementioned mysterious process.

Third thing to do: contemplate the self-referential nature of this post, which is still posing as my first:

Welcome to Day of DH 2010. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Wait, this is your first post, or my first post?

Enough of this silliness, there is humanities computing to do.  Although I probably should have started configuring this blog earlier, it seemed like a fair enough way to start the day.

old tech and its (dis)contents

I’m spending the afternoon adding new images and metadata to an old, but still-growing collection of historical photos — a Luna Insight database for which I’m responsible.

Or at least trying to do that.  Turns out some of my systems people decided a while back to take down the Oracle instance I had been relying on…  thinking that it was so old and in the way, nobody would be likely to notice.  Hmph.  Different people have different definitions of “old and in the way,” I guess.

And why did they forget to tell me?  Well, that’s another story, a simple equation, really: budget cuts = layoffs = human sacrifice — and some of the victims a few months back were individuals I used to rely on, who knew me.  The ones left picking up the slack are fine — I like them, they’re smart, I feel for them.  But I regret the loss of that one human, who knew what belonged to whom, knew the dependencies and problems of old software and platform migration, and so forth.   The tech knowledge is still there in the department, but the trivial human memory is gone.

I had wanted to use this little task I was trying to do as an excuse to document, for the Day of DH record, which tools and languages I would use.  Nothing fancy — really, rather cobbled-together and Rube Goldbergian (but not nearly as cool as that YouTube thing that made the rounds about a month ago).  So, for the record, this operation requires:

* a shell script to clean up metadata delivered to me as messy XML

* XSLT to create SQL insert statements

* text editor to clean up the SQL

* proprietary Oracle client to run the SQL

* Luna Insight indexer (also proprietary) to create index tables

* Luna image processor (also proprietary) to create image derivatives

Is this DH?