Get To Know Your OIP Units - CARLA

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What do you do?

Improve the nation's capacity to teach and learn foreign languages effectively.

Who's my point person?

Marlene is my main contact but I'm free to work directly with others on specific projects.

What skills does your staff have or want to develop?

CARLA staff has extensive FileMaker skills. They've build their own databases and published them to the web using CDML. They would like to keep their hands in FileMaker and learn PHP.

What databases do you use?

CARLA has 15 databases, all of which have a web front end. They weened themselves from working with FileMaker client because it was unstable. That was several years ago and what was once necessity is now habit. Because their databases are shared with the public they need to keep the web component, but they themselves are not opposed to trying FileMaker client again.

What plans or ideas do you have to create or improve databases?

All the database are running version 6 and sitting on a server that Christopher would like to decommission. The environment is unstable and needs to be monitored and slapped on occasion.

OIP Tech wants to upgrade the files and move them onto the main server. That's complicated because they're all using CDML which is no longer supported in version 10. Essentially, they all have to be rewritten in order to make the move. We'll need to develop a strategy for this. What we learn converting the LCTL database will inform how we tackle the rest.

I spoke briefly about the FileMaker Style Manual. I would like to adopt this for all future development, but there's no need to refit existing databases.

How I work

I bring a project management rigor to my work. Expect a formal gathering of requirements followed by a written statement of work and timeline.

I work closely with Christopher to maintain a manageable work load. This allows me to dedicate myself to quality and meeting deadlines. My goal is to develop solutions that meet business objectives thoroughly and completely. I favor solutions that are sustainable — they work now and in the future — and advance our skills, improve our techniques and expand our knowledge of the technology.

How I communicate (in order of preference)

  1. Blog - This is where I keep notes and report my progress. I'll show you how to filter for posts that relate to your project. I encourage you to use the comment feature to respond and react. In some cases, I may ask you to seal your approval of a decision or milestone by submitting a comment.
  2. Email - Still a great way to communicate.
  3. Instant Messaging (iChat, Skype, AOL Instant Messenger) - IM is a great way to resolve easy questions quickly. I'm exploring video capabilities as well. We may conduct a meeting as a video conference rather than crossing the river to meet in person.
  4. Screen Sharing (iChat, UMConnect) - These tools are great for instruction and trouble-shooting.
  5. Document Sharing (NetFiles, Google Docs) - Why take up space on OIP servers when there's room on NetFiles? Plus, NetFiles allows you to control access and is easy to reach when you're working off campus.
  6. Telephone - Still a trusty communication tool.
  7. In Person - Technology is no substitute for good ol' face-to-face but work schedules, project load and distance make this the hardest to achieve.

What I expect from you

  • Hold me accountable for meeting deadlines and objectives.
  • Be understanding if your project is delayed or put on hold for the sake of other projects of higher priority.
  • Willingness to explore technology as a means to communicate.
  • Contact me when you have concerns about your project.
  • Contact Christopher for everything else.

1 Comment

RE the CARLA Staff having FMP expertise -
Liz has quite a bit of expertise working with FMP locally and has taken a couple of classes on relational dbs as well as working with Christopher on updating a CARLA contacts legacy db.

Louis and I have expertise with the web side, with a bit more experience on my side, especially with the more complicated database web implementations. I also created a conference system that does proposal submissions and reviews (web, closed) and then has the accepted ones searchable on the conference website (public).

The rest have maybe done some inputting of data into an existing database, but that's about it.

Re video chats - have you tried Tokbox? It's all web-based, nothing to install. But it lagged when I tried a conference between here, WI, and CA.

mj