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Last semester (fall 2012), the SLIC team released a brand new version of the SLIC website (http://slic.arizona.edu/).

From Oct 25, 2012 to approximately Feb 8, 2013, Alexander Danehy, the main student developer in charge of the SLIC Portal, added a lot of tweaks to the main interface. One of the big changes was the inclusion of course lectures, and the subsequent ability to browse our video collection by different categories.

We've installed jsTree as the primary browsing/filtering system. The tree allows fine-granularity selection from our predetermined hierarchy. It's worth noting that we've discussed, tried and tested a lot of options along the way:

a.     drop-down checkboxes

b.     walking menu

c.     walking checkboxes

d.     walking, no-click menu

e.     single-selection drop-down lists (previously, user  could only select from categories)

A few changes were made to the video page as well:

  • added the ability to jump to a slide by its number
  • added information about the current number of slides shown
  • show segmentation data for slides - whether or not a slide is active, its time in the video (or multiple times, if it was shown repeatedly), or if isn't shown at all
  • added a visual indicator of a slide not being shown in a video (on the video, as well as in the SLIC view on the main page)
  • recruited a new team member to work on the multiple slide appearances
  • modified advanced search - no longer an arrow but a full-text button; added sorting

In an effort to make searching even more powerful, we looked into automatic speech extraction and transcript generation. One of the students, Kavinfranco Devadhas, who joined the project in the fall, began researching the CMU Sphinx project -- an open-source speech recognition software. Getting it to work and modifying it to suit our needs proved to be a challenging exercise. However, he was able to make some progress: he successfully added slide words to the dictionary to improve recognition by about 10-20%. He also worked on a publication idea, which required using slide words to automatically tune the Sphinx parameters. The preliminary results showed that this could be a promising direction. Unfortunately, due to a job offer, he was not able to continue this work in the spring semester. The project is in a state at which the next student can continue to build it up and test new ideas.

Another focus of the SLIC team was the development of a dedicated mobile app. Benjamin Dicken joined the SLIC project at the very end of the spring 2012 semester. He spent the summer trying to revive the Android app written by the former SLIC member, Steven Gregory. Unable to get it to work (due to the drivers' incompatibility and a wide variety of other problems), he continued to develop the mobile API written for the Android app that was originally further extended by another former student, Derek Leverenz. Instead of starting a new Android app from scratch, we decided to leverage Ben's Objective-C knowledge, and by the start of the fall semester, we had a proof-of-the-concept prototype interface for iOS.

At the end of November, we met with Wayne Peterson, who is the UA assistant director of Web / Mobile Services. We discussed the possibility of putting the SLIC app in the university enterprise development repository to allow for the internal testing and the future release of the app. We got a very enthusiastic response. Unfortunately, due to Ben's graduation in the spring of 2013, and an overwhelming number of other commitments, he was not able to continue working on the app in the spring. The project was put on hold until the team finds a new developer. In the mean time, all design decisions related to the main website are made to make sure that the website is usable by the mobile users (as soon as we switch to the HTML5-based video player).

At the end of the fall semester, the SLIC team got 3 new members: Haziel Zuniga, Mark Fischer and Matthew Burns. Stay tuned to learn about their projects and contributions.

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