Monthly Archives: December 2013

Bonus Week Notes: 23 December

It might be the last working day of the year for Web Services but we’ve pushed a few things live:

  • New mega menu navigation now contains a “social media” link.
  • Scroll indicator on the homepage to encourage discovery of all our great content.
  • The Study homepage is now powered by WordPress as is every page linked directly from it – we’ll be rolling out across Undergraduate and Postgraduate sites over the coming months ahead of a full review of our online prospectus.
  • We’ve made some minor improvements to the responsive site navigation. This is the main prerequisite for us switching other sites into the new theme which we’ll be doing early in the new year.

We’re now going to step away from the svn commit to avoid breaking anything else!

Have a great Christmas and a fantastic New Year!

Week Notes: 20 December 2013

This week we have mostly been launching this:

New Edge Hill University homepage

New Edge Hill University homepage

We’ll blog more about it after the Christmas break but a few interesting points below:

  • New server build to support the new WordPress powered homepage.
  • Varnish caching layer to make page serve times fly!
  • New Faculty of Arts and Sciences website.
  • Lots of support to departments updating their staff profiles.
  • Discussions about promotion of the National Student Survey.
  • Meeting with Learning Services to look at moving their site to new WordPress theme.
  • Meeting with Media about their website.
  • Meeting with Performing Arts about their website. (Can you see a pattern yet?!)
  • Probably some other things I’ve forgotten about following the IT Services meal out yesterday.
  • JIRA – Created: 29; Resolved: 32
  • RMS – Created: 15; Cleared: 18

This will be the last Friday week notes of 2013 – please let us know in the comments if you’ve found them useful.

I’ll leave you with a look at where we’ve come from:

https://twitter.com/MikeNolan/status/412349454381891584

Week Notes: 13 December

  • WordPress 3.8 is now running on both blogs.edgehill.ac.uk and the Corporate Website. There are lots of new features covered in the video below but if you’re an editor and want the old colour scheme back then get choose light from the edit profile page.
  • Updated the Web Services blog to the latest Twenty Fourteen theme – hope you like reading our posts!
  • Testing JS Hacks on Blackboard to more closely integrate with other staff- and student-facing services under the GO banner.
  • Sport website now in the new WordPress theme.
  • YouTube Live streaming of the December Graduation ceremonies went very well. There’s a short write up about it.
  • Updated the spam sales calls page for Corporate Communications. Four years ago I attempted a similar thing but it’s not always been successful – I get as many sales emails and calls as ever and I’m sorry to say I’m no better at telling companies when we’re not interested.
  • New homepage and theme developments ahead of a lunch before the end of term:
    • Reviewed and updated the contents of the mega menus.
    • Updated slide designs
    • Steve Johnson has done some great work on new Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Study homepages in the new design – these will launch alongside the new homepage.
    • Upgraded to the latest version of FontAwesome. This is incredibly painful when the use of many icons are stored in (serialized) database rows.
    • Lots of optimisation to attempt to improve the page load time.
  • JIRA – Created: 49; Resolved: 42
  • RMS – Created: 27; Closed: 31

That’s all for this week but check out a couple of festive microsites that other Universities have released:

Maybe we’ll join them next year when we’re not trying to launch a new homepage!

YouTube Live Streaming Graduation Ceremonies

Last Saturday saw the campus taken over for Edge Hill’s winter Graduation ceremonies and I was there to see the Real Jenny Barrett graduate.

Nursing Students waving their caps in a blur

Nursing Students waving their caps in a blur

We’ve been streaming graduation ceremonies live online since Summer 2008 – I blogged about the use of eStream at the time – and the system has worked very well and allowed us to both stream to people watching at home and keep an archive of past ceremonies.

As I said in the previous post we were particularly pleased with the quality of video compared to other platforms such as YouTube and hosting ourselves offered more flexibility for embedding in our site.

But that was then and this is now and as you would expect, cloud services have upped their game.  YouTube now supports full HD, videos are available on a range of platforms from mobiles and tablets to TVs as well as watching on the YouTube website or embedding into our site. Combine this with the additional visibility that publishing to YouTube gives us as students share videos with friends.

So for the last couple of years we’ve been using a hybrid of live streaming with eStream and a Flash Media Server hosted in-house and uploading the archived footage to YouTube. Patiently we’ve been waiting while Google first launched streaming for some major events, then last year introduced Hangouts On Air but with a “Google+” DOG burnt into the corner of the video.

Finally in August, Google lowered the subscriber threshold for enabling live streaming to below the level that Edge Hill’s account has and we gained access to the fancy “Live events” screens:

Create a new event - YouTube

 

Technically the process is very similar to what we had previously: a PC in the control room captures the mixed video output from a Tricaster, encodes it using Flash Media Live Encoder but instead of pushing to our own Flash streaming server, the feed is sent to YouTube who handle transcoding and sending out to viewers.

Colleagues in Learning Services were manning the desks but from a viewer’s perspective it went very well. The public feed ends up with about a 30 second delay from live after it’s been through YouTube’s processing but as long as people sat in the audience aren’t trying to tune in that’s not noticeable.  The feed resolution is comparable to what we had previously but at 480p it seems subjectively better quality and on mobile devices it looks great.

December ceremonies have historically had lower live stream views than the summer ones (fewer people on campus) but we had up to 61 concurrent connections watching for an average of 17 minutes:

Graduation Statistics

You’ll see we ran a single stream all day rather than individual events. This made it easier to manage from the control room as FMLE could be set up once and run all day but it means that the individual ceremonies must be uploaded again for the archive – it’s not possible to use YouTube’s online editing tools for videos over 2 hours long.

Overall I’m very happy with how it went. We’ve purchased a new video capture device which unfortunately we couldn’t get to work in time but that will offer additional future proofing and the ability to stream at up to 1080p!

Update: it looks like now all YouTube users of good standing will be able to stream through both YouTube live and Hangouts On Air.

Week Notes: 6 December

  • Discussions between ourselves and Infrastructure Solutions about how we can get contact information about staff out of Outlook and Active Directory for use in staff profile pages.
  • Demonstrated some ideas for how research case studies that form part of Edge Hill’s REF submission can be showcased online. This will make use of our story functionality to show updates over time about each topic.
  • One of these topics covers research by The Other Jenny Barrett who I met on Monday to talk about options for hosting a website for some events next year. Listen to her explain more:

  • Graduation website now powered by WordPress.
  • Saturday’s graduations will for the first time use YouTube Live streaming to broadcast to the internet. This means you can now watch from a mobile phone or tablet. We’ve done a few trial runs with colleagues from Learning Services who will be in the control room while I’ve got a second row view!

https://twitter.com/MikeNolan/status/408969493600161792

  • We’ve planned for more academic department sites to move to the new WordPress theme in the coming weeks.
  • Yesterday saw the induction of the latest batch of student bloggers working with Student Recruitment to show what life is like at Edge Hill. Follow the Inside Edge blog to find out what they have to say!
  • As mentioned last week the Edge Hill Central app is now available for iOS – it’s also available through the Google Play store for Android.
  • JIRA – Created: 29; Resolved: 23
  • RMS – Created: 19; Closed: 17

Finally, this week we solved the problem of getting information “above the fold”: Above the fold Or, y’know, not.