Adelle Frank Drupal, genealogy, accessibility, and religion archives geek in Atlanta, Georgia

the web

Newcomer's guide to the USG IT conference at Rock Eagle

Rock Eagle logoIs this your first year attending the USG IT conference at Rock Eagle? Get some "secret" tips that will make your conference a great experience. To get a general idea of how the conference is organized, peruse the 2015 agenda (also available as a 2015 PDF schedule). And then read on for registration and parking maps, packing tips, social media links, and more! (Updated for 2015)

How to play the old Oregon Trail video game on your computer

oregon trail in green letters

Do you have fond memories of playing Oregon Trail on ancient computers? Re-capture that joy by playing the game for FREE on your Windows computer, using just a few simple steps!

Updated: added easy ways to play online (with any computer) at the Internet Archive.

AlterConf in Atlanta: diversity in tech for real (part 1)

AlterConf logoA quick synopsis (with help from twitter participants) of each awesome presentation at AlterConf in Atlanta, Georgia on February 28, 2015. This is part 1 of 2.

How to make a random key using bash shell script

Command line Below is an example shell script that creates a random alphanumeric string. It does not use awk or sed, as I was working on a locked down server at the time.

GT Drupal: Install Script, Profile, and Editor

Drupal 7 logoEnjoy the slides from my somewhat entertaining and demo-driven presentation, given at the GT Build Day on November 5, 2013.

Views WoW! (for Drupal)

Views Wow logoEnjoy the slides from my HUGELY entertaining "ViewsWoW!" presentation, given at Rock Eagle on October 25, 2013. Other presenters also sharing their slides at this Google drive

How to replace HTML tags and text in a Drupal database using phpMyAdmin and SQL

Drupal cms logo Did you validate your drupal website and realize you need to replace some unclosed HTML4 tags with XHTML strict self-closing tags? Or maybe you're adding in some ARIA roles to make your text a bit more accessible.

Lo and behold: you will suddenly need to use your web host's phpmyadmin interface and SQL to find and replace strings of text in drupal's database.

Don't panic! Here's how you do it.

ReMIX South 2012 - Twitter highlights

conference logo Unable to attend ReMix South in Atlanta (October 19-20, 2012), but find twitter streams a bit overwhelming, lacking in context, or chronologically confusing?

Your solution: a re-organized, select set of tweets for each of the sessions. Please post comments if I've missed (or completely mis-categorized) any particularly good tweets!

How to send email notifications for comments in Drupal 7 with actions & triggers (or the Rules module)

Rules module logo Do you have a Drupal 7 web site? Do you want to get an email when someone comments, so you don't have to check your site all the time? Don't panic! Here's how you do it.

You don't need to install any new modules to do this in Drupal 7. All that's needed is a little configuring and to copy and paste in a short bit of code.

Update: Both the easiest & most powerful way to get these notification emails (in Drupal 6 or 7) is to install and configure the Rules Module. NodeOne has a great set of video tutorials on their site explaining how to use the Rules module. I've also put example code for a Rules-based email notification in the comments to this post for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7

Web Design with the Brain in Mind

attention symbolDo you have to design a web site, but you have no graphic design training? Are you a designer, but need evidence-based research to justify your design decisions?  If either of these apply to you, I've got a poster and paper that will help.

Updated: new book recommendation!

How to publish your university catalog and class schedules online using the Cascade Server CMS

faculty bio sketchOver the last 2 years, Emory College has used Cascade Server to publish our academic catalog and semester class schedules to the web. Learn the trials, tribulations, and successes we've encountered along the way with data definitions, indexing, and web services.

Updates: Latest versions of Faculty bio code in August. Notes on further indexing-related changes and print-version styles explained via comment in April. Data definitions and stylesheets in February.

Twitter highlights of THATCamp Southeast 2011

conference logo Were you unable to attend THATCamp SE 2011 in Atlanta (March 4-6)? Find twitter streams a bit overwhelming, lacking in context, or chronologically confusing?

Here is your solution: a re-organized, select set of relevant and/or funny tweets for each of the sessions. Please post comments if I've missed (or completely mis-categorized) any particularly good tweets! There's even a list at the bottom of this post of tweets that I couldn't place (your help is welcome!)

I'll also post links to people's notes, blogs and slides.

How to use & install the Bluefish Text Editor on Windows Vista or Windows 7 (Review)

Bluefish and Windows logoInstead of scouring the internet for hours, as I did, just follow a few simple instructions and you'll be up and running in just a few minutes with the Bluefish Editor on Windows (assuming you have a fast download speed).

I decided to spend a few more minutes evaluating Bluefish from the perspective of a web developer, since I'd already spent two hours figuring out how to install it.

Conclusion: it's okay for a free text editor, but I'm sticking with my affordable and more powerful text editor, OxygenXML.

Twitter highlights of the 2010 Web Directions USA conference

conference logoWere you unable to attend Web Directions USA 2010 in Atlanta (September 23-24)? Find twitter streams a bit overwhelming, lacking in context, or chronologically confusing?

UPDATED: with the latest slides and links from presentations.

Here is your solution: a re-organized, select set of relevant and/or funny tweets for each of the talks given. Please post comments if I've missed any particularly good tweets!

I'll also be posting a few notes, as well as links to the slides and podcasts of these talks when they go live on the Web Directions site. Another blogger has also written more detailed reflections on the sessions he attended.

How to start an ordered list at a specific number in XHTML

W3C LogoTo my horror, XHTML deprecated the start attribute for numbered (ordered) lists, the one that allowed us to start the list at a specific numerical value (other than 1).  Well, scream no more: here's how to do this simple task in XHTML, with a few, short lines of code.

Introduction to Web Development #2 - the many flavors of HTML

stop sign - fun ahead

I know, you thought that there was only plain HTML, like just plain Chinese. But, no, just as Chinese has a number of dialects, so does HTML.

Hold on to your hat and get ready to traverse the maze of HTML dialects, with a stop for fun along the way!

Introduction to Web Development #1 - How you should REALLY get started

laptop and chefHow is the web like dining at a French restaurant? The difference between design and structure. What languages are "spoken" on the web? How REAL web developers learn to code. 

All of these topics are covered in this first installment of my Introduction to Web Development series.


8 Principles of Information Architecture

8Dan Brown explains his 8 principles of information architecture, with occasional clandestine references to his 2009 IA Summit talks on Design Rules and Modelling Concepts.

Update: Brown has written this presentation up in the latest ASIS&T bulletin.

This presentation was given by Don Brown at the IA Summit 2010, in Phoenix, AZ. You can view the presentation on Slideshare and Listen to the Boxes and Arrows Podcast.

Presenting: the "Adelle" theme for Drupal 6

Drupal cms logoWhen I first started blogging back in 2008, I decided to use drupal as the behind-the-scenes software. I'd been in love with it for years, ever since using version 4 at work. But, my goodness, the trials of getting it to look nice!

Herein you will find my journey through 2 themes to this beautiful design you see in front of you now.

Top 7 Recipes for Confusion: a taxonomy of miscommunication

Potato Chips as Cat FoodBoykin gives 7 recipes for confusion and tips for avoiding them in web design. I've also embedded the hilarious cat food video he created that explains the importance of designing for the cat, not the owner.

"The number 1 rule of e-commerce: make it easy for people to give you money."

This presentation was given by John Boykin at the IA Summit 2010, in Phoenix, AZ. You can Listen to the Boxes and Arrows Podcast.

Make it simple: 4 web design strategies

Remote control, originalLearn the 2 Laws of Simplicity, 4 solutions for creating simplicity (with fun remote control images), and 6 strategies for simplicity in design. Or, as Albert Einstein explained, how to "make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience."

This presentation was given by Giles Colborne at the IA Summit 2010, in Phoenix, AZ. You can view this presentation on Slideshare.

Best 5+ Firefox add-ons for web developers and designers

Mozilla Firefox LogoHere's a list of some of the most useful Firefox extensions: the top 5 for web developers and designers, 3 for everyone, and a few more untested - but possibly useful - extensions.

Familiarity and Attractiveness in Pictures and Stories for web design

How are similarity, attractiveness, pictures and stories relevant in the web development, IA and UX fields? Read these summaries and reflections on chapters 8 and 10 in Susan Weinschenk's book, "Neuro Web Design: what makes them click?", to find out.

Vision & the Other Senses in Web Design

How are vision and other senses relevant in the web development, IA and UX fields? Read these summaries and reflections on chapters 9 and 10 in Medina's book, "Brain Rules", to find out.

Visual methods for getting attention in web design

I summarize the most relevant and interesting thoughts from part 1 in Michael Eysenck's book on Fundamentals of Cognition, giving a few ideas for how this research on visual perception and attention might be relevant in the web development, IA and UX fields. 

RDF: Resource Description Framework (a class presentation)

Why should I care about RDF?

Computers can help YOU find stuff easier on the web, because RDF gives computers a better "understanding" of that information.

computer sees vs. human sees

Installing Archivists' Toolkit on a remote MySQL database with Windows

Archivists' Toolkit logoI'm lucky enough to be using Archivists' Toolkit (AT) at my internship with the Atlanta University Center. AT is an open source archival data management system that allows archivists (or graduate interns) to enter the finding aid data for a collection without knowing how to code EAD.

Being a curious person, and a glutton for punishment, I thought I'd try to install and use AT on my Windows Vista laptop and connect to a test MySQL database in my shared web hosting account (at bluehost). I discovered a few gotchas and have, I hope, explained the installation process in a clear, linear way that will help others perform this installation more quickly. Mind you, I came to the realization that AT currently doesn't work on Vista, but the steps are the same for XP.

We don't pay attention to boring things

sleepy headNeed to get users' attention for your web site? Worried about giving boring presentations? Read these helpful ideas from chapter 4 of Medina's book, "Brain Rules" for ideas on getting people's attention in the web development, IA and UX fields. 

Reading and Words on the Web

Scan, don't readSo much of your website is WORDS. Can brain science insights help you to use words better on the web? Read these summaries from chapters 17-21 of Michael Eysenck's book on Fundamentals of Cognition, for a few ideas that are relevant to the web development, IA and UX fields. 

Short term Attention-getters and Long term Brand management

Juggling 7 pieces of infoHow do we get users' attention in the short-term and maintain our brand in the long-term? Read these summaries from chapters 5 and 6 of Medina's book, "Brain Rules" for ideas on how these concepts are relevant to the web development, IA and UX fields. 

Help users to Remember your brand and Take Action on your web site

Juggling multiple=How do users remember (or forget) your brand? How do they learn to use your web site? What causes them to take action on your web site? Read these summaries and reflections from chapters 11-16 and 28 of Eysenck's book, "Fundamentals of Cognition."

"Hey, You!" Getting the attention of the unconscious mind in web design

How is research on attention-getting and the unconscious relevant to you, if you're in the web development, IA and UX fields? Read these summaries of the most relevant and interesting thoughts from chapters 1 and 6 in Susan Weinschenk's book, "Neuro Web Design: what makes them click?"
Danger!FoodDon't be evil!

Needs, Entertainment, Decision-making, Overload and other Concepts relevant to information behavior

How do users decide, browse, avoid and assign relevance or entertainment value on the web? What role do needs play in information seeking? Read these summaries and reflections from chapters 4 and 5 of Donald Case's book, "Looking for information" for ideas on how these concepts are relevant to the web development, IA and UX fields. 

How People interact with Information, some theories

How are human information behavior (HIB) theories and models relevant to you if you're in the web development, IA and UX fields? Read these summaries of and reflections on chapters 6 and 7 in Donald Case's book on "Looking for information". 

Canadian ISP allows parody of Ralph Lauren's unhealthy model photoshop to stay

Big-headed ticked off Ralph Lauren by noting that, in this model's photo, "her head is bigger than her pelvis."   Thanks to for the image.

However, note the "" in that URL?  That's Google, who totally caved to Ralph Lauren's spurious copyright infringement claim.  Spurious, because parody is an excellent example of Fair Use.

Happily, BoingBoing is hosted by a Canadian company who is not subservient to the DCMA.

The lesson?  Host your controversial blog outside the U.S. :)

See the video of BoingBoing talking with Rachel Maddow.

5 Reasons Why I love Oxygen XML and you should, too

This software makes it possible for me to spend days in the depths of XML and XSL and not go totally insane. Here are my 5 reasons for loving this XML editing software.

Interaction gestalt and the design of aesthetic interactions

Lim, et. al. (2007) apply a visual perception theory (gestalt) to interaction design, defining 11 attributes of interaction.

A Goal-based Classification of Web Information Tasks

Kellar, Watters, & Shepherd (2006) offer a high-level classification of user’s activities on the web as goal-based information tasks, these could be helpful when structuring personas. The information goals they discover are: information seeking, exchange, maintenance and, perhaps, monitoring.

The internet and the 2008 election (Pew)

This report highlights information seeking on the internet, which is becoming an increasingly-used source for voter information. Unfortunately, at the moment, the internet is most useful for national elections. Statewide and, especially, local election information is still difficult to locate on the internet. Local voter advocacy groups would be well-served to focus on sharing their local voter information in the formats and customized for the tasks mentioned below.

Making sense of credibility on the Web: Models for evaluating online information and recommendations for future research

Metzger performs a literature review on efforts to improve the credibility assessment skills of Internet users, including checklist and contextual models, as well as empirical studies. She then details the new strategies suggested by her review and proposes future directions for web credibility research. Her dual-processing model highlights the importance of studying not just a user’s ability to evaluate, but also their motivation to do so.

Information needs and uses

Dervin and Nilan (1986) trace the paradigm shift in information needs research away from systems-centered and toward a more user-centered approach. I was particularly intrigued by those user-centered studies that examined information needs: (1) by the different kinds of information needed at different stages in research; (2) by eliciting statements of problematic situational activities; and (3) as observable behavioral indicators.

DrupalCamp Atlanta SESSIONS - Saturday Sept. 19th

DrupalCamp Atlanta 2009 badgeWill you be attending DrupalCamp at Kennesaw State University?  I will. There are some fascinating sessions being offered.

Saturday, September 19, 2009, 9:15 am to 5:00 pm.

Some of the sessions that look interesting include:

Research Techniques and Methods for studying Human Information Behavior on the Web

Learn about how user research techniques are relevant in the web development, IA and UX fields.  Read these summaries and reflections on part 4 in Donald Case's book on Human Information Behavior (HIB).

Research insights for User Experience professionals into human information behavior

How are the topics of Human Information Behavior (HIB) research, and user research into the influence of occupation, social role, and demographics relevant in the web development, IA and UX fields? Read these summaries and reflections on part 5 in Donald Case's book on Human Information Behavior (HIB) to find out.

Modeling Concepts: New Techniques for IA in a Web 2.0 World

Sitemaps are inadequate to fully communicate the complex structures needed in content management. Happily, I was privileged to hear Dan Brown's thoughts on how to use a concept model (CM) to capture and communicate some of these structures. Dan defines 4 main formats for CMs, lists the steps in CM creation as it fits into the design process, and includes some insider tips along the way.

Design Games for IA

Having trouble discovering project requirements? Can't figure out the solutions to a design problem? Donna Spencer suggests using design games to have fun while increasing collaboration and gathering insights.

Designing Rules: The Engine of User Experience

To fully leverage a content management system (cms) requires clear instructions on how the cms should automatically process content. It is essential for designers to decide on and communicate these processes or rules.

Dan Brown puts design rules in the context of other deliverables, defines and explains the 3 types of design rules, and offers tips on how to ensure that you have good, standardized rules.

Designing Visually Explicit Information

A checklist for better information design, tips on how to sell your design, numerous references to books and people for learning more, a few professional habits one should acquire, and intriguing insights from the field of psychology - all in a half-day, engaging workshop on Wednesday at the IA summit. What more can an information architect ask for?!

Online Voter Behavior and Needs: preliminary research

How can web developers make it easier for voters to keep government honest and make informed decisions in the voting booth? To begin to answer this question, I've done a preliminary survey of research on voter information behavior, especially as it relates to online usage.

Is web linking becoming illegal? A copyright case.

Yikes and copyright, Batman! Will hyperlinks be penned in and no longer free range? A big law firm tells a web site how they can and cannot link to the law firm's web site.

Sharepoint vs. Drupal comparison for library intranets

Here is a quick, brief comparison of Drupal and Sharepoint as options for a library intranet.

The User-Centered Approach: How We Got Here

Using Fidel's 2000 article, I explore how a user-centered approach could be applied to my work in web development, especially to the voter information site I hope someday to perfect.

Georgia healthcare & government go transparent with new web sites

Georgia's Government rolled out two new websites in January, aimed at making government and healthcare more transparent in Georgia:

Track U.S. Congress with a widget or RSS feed

I'm trying out the widget for tracking just those bills and members of Congress in which I am interested.

How to create and use Dreamweaver templates, part 2: wireframes

Dreamweaver logoA follow-up to Part 1: introducing Dreamweaver Templates, this post urges you to pause before you start coding and to create a very basic design using wireframes first.

New president = new design for

As captured on, the new administration has changed the website for the whitehouse.

How to create and use Dreamweaver templates, part 1: introduction

Dreamweaver logoAn overview of some of the basic concepts, tools, and options available in Dreamweaver Templates (DWT). These notes are particular to the CS3 version, but many will apply to other versions, as well.

Dreamweaver template regions: best practices

Dreamweaver logoLearn about the major types of regions in a Dreamweaver template (DWT), examples of how to use regions to create flexible design elements, and common pitfalls to avoid.

Server side includes: how to avoid Dreamweaver library items

Dreamweaver logoLibrary items in Dreamweaver are often used to create repeated elements (such as navigation menus or footers) on every page of a web site. However, updating Library items involves touching EVERY SINGLE PAGE that item resides on: a real developer no-no. One of the best solutions to this problem is server-side includes (SSI).

How to hide web pages, folders, or your entire site from search engines: robots.txt

Good search engines (Yahoo, Google, etc.) will leave designated parts of your web site alone if you ask them nicely.

Best free software for cheap (I mean, frugal) web developers ...and everyone else

Best free software for: protecting your computer, developing web sites, and having fun/being productive.  I assume you have a Windows machine because they're cheap (unless you're a REAL techie who uses Linux and builds their own computer, in which case, this blog entry is probably beneath you).

How to search Google and library databases

When searching library databases - or Google, for that matter, it is helpful to have the following arrows in one's quiver: boolean logic, truncation, and proximity operators.

Public Relations: Let's Give Them Something To Talk About

Abstract: Spohr argues for the importance of word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, outlining the five steps for building such a campaign.

How to Write a Marketing Plan

Abstract: Stressing the importance of marketing for the bottom line, Kassel gives seven steps for creating a marketing plan after you've defined your target market and understood its needs.

Copyright in a Social World

Abstract: Miller gives a basic overview of and urges that students be educated in copyright law. She notes copyright's implications for online social networking using three web 2.0 examples: YouTube, MySpace, and Flickr. Finally, she discusses plagiarism both by students and of students' work.

Copyright and Collaborative Spaces: Open Licensing and Wikis

Abstract: Botterbusch and Parker use the example of wikis to explore the collaborative space they see between the two extremes of full copyright protection and full freedom of content.

Assume That Online Works are Copyrighted: They May Have More Protection Than You Think

Abstract: Harris surveys the many ways in which protected digital works can be used that may infringe on copyright. These infringements include:

Subject Headings 2.0: Folksonomies and Tags

Abstract: West explores how a work's "aboutness" is determined. She contrasts subject headings with folksonomies (tagging) as a classification method.

Search Smarter

Abstract: Rubenking aims to demonstrate how to form your initial searches to get the best results on the web, fast.

Finding and Using the Magic Words: Keywords, Thesauri, and Free Text Search

Abstract: According to Ojala, information professionals are distinguished by their use of the best search terms, which differ between the web (natural language) and for-fee databases (controlled vocabularies). She notes the usefulness of using keyword suggestions from web advertisers and questions whether our controlled vocabulary expertise will be useful in the future of free text searches.

Twenty-five years of end-user searching, Part 1: Research findings

Abstract: Markey limits her survey of the last twenty-five years of research on end-user searching to only intervention-free studies, namely transaction log analyses. Her summary of search behavior patterns is intriguing.

Copyright's Digital Dilemma Today: Fair Use or Unfair Constraints? Part 2

Abstract: Strickland explores the parameters of fair use in copyright law as of late 2003, including the DCMA, Teach Act, and various relevant legal cases and state statutes.

Getting Two for the Price of One: Accessibility and Usability

Abstract: Kirkpatrick argues that, when you design a web site for accessibility, you also “increase the usability of that site for everyone.” Giving best practices examples of accessible web coding, she shows how these also benefit non-disabled users.

Usability and Accessibility

Abstract:  To ensure that library web sites exhibit usability, Dowling delineates three categories of usability guidelines and eight steps that create accessibility.

Users' information behaviour - a gender perspective

Abstract: Steinerová & Šušol (2007) use gender difference, an admittedly problematic social construction, as a nonetheless helpful lens through which to frame information behavior.

Human information behavior: Integrating diverse approaches and information use

Abstract: Spink and Cole (2006) survey the main research on human information behaviors – delineating three interdisciplinary approaches – problem solving, ELIS (everyday life information seeking), and foraging – proposing that a fourth – information use with modular cognitive architecture – may also be gleaned from the literature, and then attempting to construct an integrated approach from the comparison of those four approaches.

A nonlinear model of information-seeking behavior

Abstract: In contrast to discipline-specific, stage-based models of information behavior, Foster (2004) interviews interdisciplinary information seekers, and proposes a non-linear and cyclical model. His model describes three core processes and three levels of contextual interaction that are dynamic, shifting, and without an inherent sequence of occurrence.

Toward a model of the everyday life information needs of urban teenagers, part 1: Theoretical model

Abstract: After a brief literature review of research on ELIS (everyday life information-seeking) and on adolescent information behavior, Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2006) present the results of their qualitative research gathered from twenty-seven urban teenagers.

Ixquick [meta-search engine]

Summary: Overall, I find the Ixquick metasearch engine to be a cut above many other metasearch engines for general/topical searches. However, I also evaluate it on 9 criteria and note areas in which it could improve.

Getting To Know the Invisible Web

Abstract: Smith explains why some of the web is invisible to search engines. He offers techniques for searching the invisible web, as well as books and web sites containing additional strategies. Comparing standard print references to invisible web sources, he lists sites that are particularly effective for locating “invisible” information online.

The Parallel Information Universe

Abstract: Eisenberg urges librarians to take the responsibility in the parallel information universe of “participation, user control, sharing, openness, and networking” that Web 2.0 has created, just as they have always done in the print information universe. He presents librarian-focused SWOT analyses of three major Web 2.0 technologies – virtual worlds, social networking, and personal digital devices – and then ties them back to the traditional library functions.

Evaluating Information on the Internet

Abstract: Brandt emphasizes the importance of and gives models for evaluating information sources on the internet by adapting traditional evaluative techniques and criteria for an online environment.

As we may think and A brief history of the internet

I believe that Vannevar Bush's ideals have been advanced by the emergence of the internet, but not yet achieved.  Bush's broadest dream is that of "scientists, burying their old professional competition in the demand of a common that knowledge evolves and endures throughout the life of a race rather than that of an individual" (Bush, 1945).