Happy New Year! — and a few thoughts to begin it with

To those who read my post last week, we do not have a flashy New Year’s post to show you; however, I have drawn some useful insights from this circumstance which I would like to share as we kick off another year.

My first insight has to do with learning new computing skills and the SLab folks.  The plan was for our Praxis fellows to contribute some HTML, CSS, and PHP to a GitHub repository to create a web page which would read “Happy New Year!”  We would then display this page or include a link to it in a blog post on New Year’s Day.  The idea was to demonstrate the new skills we learned in Praxis this past semester which we will be using next semester to construct Ivanhoe.  I failed, however, to account for a few pitfalls along the way.  For instance, as Wayne pointed out to me over email, GitHub will not support PHP; I would instead need to use Heroku or AppFog to deploy it.  So my battle with Heroku commenced.  Setting up the account was easy enough, but problems began when I attempted to set up remote repositories and apps.  Despite my having set up several apps with names like “vast ocean” and “aqueous fountain,” in actually trying to verify the correct remote repository or add files to the app, either the repo would “already exist” or the push would fail for one reason or another.  This post will not be a particularly tech-savvy one, but the point of all this is rather to say how grateful I am for the wonderful support and patience of Eric, Jeremy, and Wayne (our development and design SLab mentors) in assisting us Praxers in tackling the most elementary of computing problems.  This was the day after Christmas, and all our SLab friends were probably relaxing or celebrating, as I should have been doing–so no assistance via chat, either.  I spent close to four hours waging war on Heroku when one of the SLab folks could have set me up in five minutes.  I stubbornly relish figuring things out for myself, but sometimes, that really can result in–like Veronica and Eliza–banging my head on my keyboard.  Thank you, Eric, Jeremy, and Wayne, for your teaching and patience.

My second insight relates to project management.  I must admit, I concocted this plan myself.  As an optimist, I tend to see creative endeavors as solely fun and easier to execute than they actually are in the end.  I failed to anticipate the obvious: that no one wants to or should be badgered into doing more work–however fun–between December 24th and January 1… period.  I underestimated how much effort this thing would take to pull off (as my Heroku efforts demonstrate), and I got overly enthusiastic about this new creative endeavor, expecting others to feel the same.  I ended up calling off the project, and we all went off to revel with family and friends, just as we should.  To my fellow Praxis teammates, I apologize for my unseasonable exuberance.  The project manager’s job should be to figure out what work needs to be done and how it can be executed most efficiently–not to create more work for the team.  So even though we do not have a flashy New-Year’s post, I am happy to say that we do have a more sensible project manager.

A Happy New Year to our Praxis team, to the entire SLab, and to all our followers!  I look forward to continuing work in January and keeping everyone posted on Ivanhoe and all our Praxis experiences along the way.

This past May, 2014, I completed my M.A. in English at the University of Virginia. As a graduate student I focused on American literature, textual studies, and learning as much about digital humanities as possible. I served as project manager for the 2013-14 Praxis cohort, rebuilding the Ivanhoe Game. I now work at Rare Book School and the Washington Papers doing bibliographical research and social media. In my spare time I enjoy jamming on my violin, researching family history, and having movie nights with friends. I love ballroom dance, can't get enough opera, and enjoy making gourmet pizza at home.

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