UT Law on the Go: New iPhone Web App

Screenshots of the UT Law iPhone app

Trying to keep up with the proverbial Joneses, today we launched an iPhone / iPod Touch mobile web app for the University of Texas School of Law. If you want to check it out on your iPhone right away, fire up the following link in Safari: http://www.utexas.edu/law/m/

I built it from the ground up with PHP, JavaScript, and a bit of elbow grease, pulling data from a handful of existing sources both on-campus and off. It makes use of the iUI JavaScript framework, which is a great resource for getting up and running quickly (but which also has some drawbacks — I’ll likely switch to pure jQuery for the next major version, but I’m also keeping an eye on the jQTouch project). A quick rundown of the features of the web app:

  • Directory Search — if you’re affiliated with UT Law School you can search our internal phone and email directory by name or department, using the native iPhone apps to place calls and send emails directly,
  • Event listings and Notices pulled from our existing calendar and Law Mail announcement systems,
  • RSS feed view of our press releases,
  • Recent Twitter posts from our Communications office (this will make more sense when/if we have more than one Twitter account posting official news, and can combine them into one stream here),
  • Maps: detailed building maps, Google maps that use the iPhone location services to guide you to our building, KML-based maps of public parking, nearby hotels, and restaurants,
  • and a psuedo-iPhone style photo gallery that’s pulled from our existing mini-gallery on the regular website, adding the ability to flick through the images (did you know that Mobile Safari adds nifty JavaScript events for multi-touch gesture support? I didn’t until this project…)

There are a lot of things already in the works for the next iteration. The number one goal is to support other popular devices, to live up to the ideal of “one web, any browser”. As a developer who has wrestled against the wide range of inconsistent desktop browsers and all of their HTML and CSS inconsistencies over the years, though, it was really, really, nice to work with a single browser that already supports HTML5 and CSS3 presentation out of the box. Now I’m spoiled.

Flotsam and jetsam

Hello to you two or three people that read and care about the things I post! It’s been awfully quiet around here, hasn’t it? I’ll give the weak excuse that I’ve been super-busy this summer, and the best laid plans of mice and men etc., etc. But I’ve also not been posting much to del.icio.us lately, which was always the filler that gave my site the illusion of some life in RSS-land.

I have been quietly posting stuff, though! I’ve moved most of my side-note activities over to Tumblr, which is usually more fun for me to play with (hey, it’s got graphics and video posts in addition to links!). If you’d like to follow along, head over to debris.adamnorwood.com or sign up for my new “side-channel” RSS feed. That feed will eventually track my other linked entries around the web, from del.icio.us, YouTube, Vimeo, and whatever else I feel should be annotated and passed along and shoved into your reader. I’ll also soon be offering a firehose feed, in case you want to keep up on all of these posts from both the full blog as well as the side items. Just got to figure out how to keep Yahoo! Pipes! from chopping and screwing my media <embed>s beyond recognition…

Okay, get back to reading the rest of the web!

christycarroll.com

chrsitycarroll.com

The first of my summer freelance projects is now live: the portfolio site for fabulous packaging designer, Christy Carroll. Love her work! Christy crafted the visual design for the site, and I implemented it in WordPress with a completely hand-tailored jQuery portfolio browser for the homepage. More to come soon…

F.A.T. Lab, GRL, TEMPT ONE + Accessibility

TEMPT ONE / GRL / FAT Lab Project

In one of the best eye-tracking technology projects I’ve seen, the folks from the Graffiti Research Lab and FAT Lab have teamed up with Theodore Watson, Zachary Lieberman, and Christine Sugrue to tackle a novel accessibility problem: enabling pioneering graffiti artist Tempt, hospitalized for over two years with the muscle atrophy of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), to be able to tag again. Out of all of the things I heard about at SXSW this year, I think this project was the thing that excited me the most — open source hardware + software hacking, vision work, accessibility concerns, graffiti and a great story!

The system they’re developing is using the excellent openFrameworks library and two small cameras: the left can be used as a “mouse button” event by holding that eye closed, and the right eye’s pupil is tracked for gesture. The result is a simple hands-free drawing app, which they will connect with the GRL’s laser tag tools, giving Tempt the ability to express himself through graf writing again.

You can check out the rest of their videos under the TEMPT1 tag on fffff.at (“Release early, often, and w/ rap music.”), but here’s a good one to get you started:


Day #6: From Beyond from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

Austin artists, know your candidates

Paramount Theater Ceiling

As reported already by many other local sources, the Paramount theater will host our latest and greatest mayoral and city council candidates for a public forum to discuss their positions on art and culture in Austin. The event is this Wednesday (April 1), at 7p.m. With politicos slashing budgets left and right to stem the economic crisis (or at least give that appearance) arts funding often gets kicked to the curb, despite the considerable income the creative community generates for the city and state. Robert Faires of the Austin Chronicle says it best:

“But when money gets tight, if anything gets cut faster than library hours, it’s arts and culture. And part of the reason is we don’t show up. Let’s not make that mistake this time. A packed Paramount would send a pretty powerful message to City Hall.”

Might be worth getting to know the folks who are lining up to be Austin’s next mayor (I’ve included their Twitter @name where applicable as it’s hopefully a good way to have a conversation with them directly or at least with their campaign):

and city council candidates:

That about sums up what I know of the candidates. I’m a bit of a local politics neophyte, so can anyone elaborate for me on what to be looking out for at the forum this Wednesday? For the candidates that already have a local or state-wide history, what do we know about their support for the arts?

(photo via shadowstorm)

adamnorwood.com

adamnorwood.com 2009

Freshened up my personal blog and portfolio site for 2009. While similar to the transitional look and content that you’ve seen for the past couple of years, this theme has been hand re-written from scratch and features many advancements over the old style. The entire site is better integrated through WordPress than ever before using features newly available in WP 2.7.1 (gravatars, per-post styles, threaded comments, etc), a handful of customized plugins, subtle jQuery enhancements, and Subversion to tie it all together on the backend. I’ve also moved to a new domain after about ten years of being at asnorwood.com. All of the old links should still point to the right place (or get you pretty close), but let me know if you find something missing.

The bulk of the improvements are behind-the-scenes, but I can at least say that the following changes make my life easier and me happier:

  • Uploading new portfolio work is much more straightforward.
    No more need for a separate gallery plugin!
  • The category and link organization is more sensible! Tags, too!
  • Better error-handling — hopefully you won’t end up 404 Not Found, but you at
    least have a sporting chance of getting unstuck now!
  • The search engine optimization (I hate that term) seems to be working
    already, too. Thanks, Google!
  • The search form pulls up better, more accurate results!

All of this tech stuff is secondary, of course, and I’m still trying to decide how best to balance the blog entries between my different interests. Maybe I’ll eventually split off into two or more distinct sites to keep things from rambling together. I’d also like to figure out a better way to incorporate the side-channel links (currently I’m using del.icio.us) and scrap-collecting elements (I love Tumblr for gathering quotes and other detritus, but not sure how best to tie that content in with my main site). Being nearly the fifteenth anniversary of my first website, you’d think I’d have this all figured out by now!

What do you think? What would you change?

Mixed Bag

mixedbag.marshariti.com

Another fairly straightforward WordPress theme built from the ground up. This time it’s for Marsha Riti’s secondary blog, MIXED BAG, which collects her project instructions, recipes, and Craigslist finds from around Austin (are you obsessed with midcentury modern furniture and weird old junk, too?).

Hold on to your hats

adamnorwood.com launched

Hey kids! I’ve relaunched my site, moving it to its new official home at adamnorwood.com (goodbye, asnorwood.com). It’s got a new, hopefully better design, a stronger WordPress backend (the bells and whistles have all been polished), and I’ve got a slew of new content coming down the pike (I know, the last real post on here was from…last July? Uh-oh). I’m launching it into the yawning chasm that is SXSW2009, so maybe everyone will be too distracted to notice any temporary glitches or missing bits. For you faithful who are reading this in a feed reader, I thank you and ask your forgiveness for the horribly jumbled updated feed that probably greeted you this morning!

Things to look forward to:

  • More posts on art from someone who’s trying to figure it all out, with more of a focus on the local (Austin, Texas) art scene
  • Posts on design and technology, including some lessons learned while building up my WordPress chops
  • More signal, less noise

As always, I’d love to hear any criticisms, complaints, questions, comments, or commiserations. Leave me your good words!

UT Law: Border Wall Working Group

Border Wall Working Group

Another simple site for the University of Texas School of Law, this time for a working group dedicated to investigating the political and cultural implications of the Texas/Mexico border wall currently being erected. The main challenge for the design was to appeal both to the general public looking for basic information about the activities of the group while primarily serving as a clearing house for hundreds of declassified government documents and other academic material about the wall.

MarshaRiti.com

marshariti.com

A quick but cute WordPress site for budding Austin children’s book illustrator Marsha Riti, designed to highlight foremost her paintings and sketches. After looking at so many other illustrators’ sites with slow-loading Flash intro pieces, broken navigation, and missing content, I vowed to keep this one clean, accessible, and friendly.