Tags filed under ‘Technology’

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.

Blinded by the (Graffiti) Light

Chase Manhatten bank is getting in a bit of trouble for using digital projectors to beam their corporate logo onto the sidewalks of NYC, an act that the Times article construes as guerrilla marketing. Representatives from the neighborhood are describing the logos as visual blight and officials from their Department of Transportation equate it with defacement. I can’t say that I argue with it being an eyesore, and based on the photos I’ve seen I think it looks a bit obvious to be “guerrilla” (the logos are projected directly in front of the Chase outlets, they’re quite noticeably the Chase octagon logo). What I find interesting is that laws applying to physical defacement of city property are coming into play to stop the projection. This makes it different from previous cases of corporate ad-graffiti (like when IBM tried it with stenciled Linux logos or Sony’s PSP graffiti misfire), and brings it more into the realm of artist-hacker types like fi5e/Graffiti Research Lab and other more established artists who use projection in public spaces as a disruptive technology (along the lines of Krzysztof Wodiczko or Jean-Christian Bourcart). Obviously, the function of art is very different than advertisement or branding (right? hmm…), but I wonder if this will lead to something of a crackdown against unapproved projected imagery in major cities – will light be considered as infringing or destructive as painted graffiti?

UPDATE: In the time after I wrote this, all hell broke loose in Boston when someone actually noticed the blinking LED signs advertising the upcoming Aqua Teen movie, and the Anti-Advertising Agency teamed up with Graffiti Research Lab to subvert outdoor light-based ads with custom-made foamcore masks/friskets. Subtractive light graffiti?