The One and Only Time I Wish My Home Computer Was a PC

Data Analysis, Projects
Screenshot of worksheet in Excel 2008 for Mac

Suddenly, it feels like 2008 was a long time ago.

We will not use this blog as a forum for Mac vs. PC mudslinging. At home, I am a Mac user, have been for years, and I have had really good experiences with all my Mac computers. When I had a PC, I several bad experiences involving hours spent on the phone with ill-tempered Windows support techs. There’s the beginning and the end of it.

Moving on to the purpose of this post:

I had a “I’ll do it!!!” moment the last day before spring break, which resulted in me bringing home a web analytics/data analysis project. I love web analytics, but I do not love working with Excel for Mac. Most of my number crunching happens at work, on work computers. As a result, I have gotten very accustomed to, dare I say spoiled by, the elegance of Excel for Windows. Especially because we have a recent version.

I am very happy mucking about in our analytics, but wrangling with Excel for Mac is like knitting Shetland lace with broomsticks. None of the keyboard shortcuts I want are there, all of the features that have floated to the ribbon in Excel 2007 are still buried in menus, and the formula bar *floats*. This is going to take a while…

Fun with Databases

Academic libraries, Library Subscription Databases, Mobile Computing, Projects

Sometimes I have terrific ideas. I see them unfold in technicolor in my mind. They are gorgeous, they are cutting-edge, and everyone loves them.

Sometimes, I implement these ideas. That’s where things get a little wonky.

My latest brilliant idea was to advertise this program I’m coordinating. I was going to combine low-tech (a poster) with high-tech (QR codes that link to resources from the library), and advertise the program, and the book that goes with it, and link patrons to really fantabulous resources…

*pauses to catch breath*

At first, the technicolor version was playing out. I had all my resources, I made QR codes using this QR code generator, and I tested the links. Granted, the websites I was linking to were not mobile optimized, but they were authoritative, darnit, and students are ingenuous creatures. If they want to look at that object on a desktop device, they’ll figure out a way to do it.

Then I attempted to create a permalink to an image we have access to through ARTstor. *insert whistling noise as technicolor version of project plumments towards the ground*

My first stumbling point was discovering that the mobile version of ARTstor does not offer the ability to grab permalinks. At best, I could add our proxy to the ARTstor mobile URL and use that to create a QR code that linked our students to the mobile ARTstor homepage. But there is a time and a place for teaching students how to start at a database homepage and arrive at the object they want, and a display is neither.

What about the full site? The full site has “image URLs.” If a student can get to the actual object, even if it’s not mobile optimized, that’s better than routing them to the homepage, right?

That would have been a decent Plan B, but ARTstor’s full site opens each item record in a new pop-up window. And iPhones (the phone I was testing all this on) have pop-ups blocked by default. The fact that one, or two, or maybe thousands of our students have iPhones is not lost on me.

But just because I like trying things, I disabled my phone’s pop-up blocker and tried an image URL with a proxy tacked onto the front. The link asked me to log in (huzzah!), loaded the pop-up window (huzzah!), and then presented me with a request to install Flash on my device so I could load the page.

Tomorrow’s work outfit: pencil skirt and a straitjacket.