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CASA/Survey of London project awarded AHRC funding

By Sarah Davenport, on 22 September 2015

Congratulations to UCLDH team member Martin Austwick (CASA), who is involved in a project that has just been awarded a major grant from the AHRC. He, and other members of CASA, will be working with Survey of London on a three-year collaboration exploring the Whitechapel area, to develop an online platform to find new ways to engage audiences with the work of the Survey.  Martin has written a blog post about this, and another Bartlett-funded collaboration with Survey of London focusing on the Oxford Street area.

Tutorial: How to Access UCL’s Virtual Private Network Using Linux

By Rudolf Ammann, on 18 September 2015

Tux

Tux, interpreted by the author, ca. 2002

Some of this university’s computational infrastructure is tucked away behind a VPN login: If you’re trying to reach it from the outside, you need to establish a Virtual Private Network connection to get through. This may be more onerous for users of a Linux operating system than it is for those who rely on Microsoft or Apple products, especially since UCL insists that VPN connections may only be established using one particular VPN client, Cisco’s AnyConnect. This client has its problems, but it also comes with a superior FOSS alternative: OpenConnect.

I will discuss the use of the two clients in turn.

AnyConnect

UCL’s How to set up a VPN connection for Linux tutorial offers instructions on how to install the AnyConnect client. The tutorial does not mention that AnyConnect will fail to work when it is run with restricted privileges. Neither does it mention that AnyConnect, when it attempts to establish a VPN connection while running with restricted privileges, is likely to hang indefinitely, consuming all available CPU, flooding all available RAM, and eventually bringing the system to its knees — unless the runaway process is killed in good time.

To work as advertised, AnyConnect needs to run as root or under sudo. So, once the application is installed, open a terminal and launch it by issuing the following command:

$ sudo /opt/cisco/anyconnect/bin/vpnui

Once you’ve entered your sudo password, this command should pop up a dialog with a single ‘Connect to:’ field. Type ‘vpn.ucl.ac.uk’ into this field, but be prepared to deal with further complications, as you may need to lift a block and ignore a warning before AnyConnect will establish a connection with UCL’s VPN.

UCL’s VPN uses what seems like a legitimate SSL certificate issued by Terena:

$ openssl s_client -connect vpn.ucl.ac.uk:443 |& sed -n '/^issuer=/s/.*CN=//p'
TERENA SSL CA

AnyConnect may not recognise this certificate and respond with an error message that reads: ‘Untrusted VPN Server Blocked!’ To work past this barrier, hit the ‘Change Setting…’ button, which will take you to AnyConnect’s Preferences dialog. In that dialog, untick the ‘Block connections to untrusted servers’ option and hit the ‘Close’ button.

Close and restart the application, then type ‘vpn.ucl.ac.uk’ into the ‘Connect to’ field and hit the ‘Connect’ button. This will trigger a warning: ‘Security Warning: Untrusted VPN Server Certificate!’ Ignore this warning and hit the ‘Connect Anyway’ button!

The next dialog will have RemoteAccess pre-entered into the ‘Group’ field. Supply your Username and Password, hit the ‘Connect’ button, and you’re in!

In theory, it should be possible either to export the Terena certificate as a .pem file from the Firefox Certificate Manager or to download it from Terena’s repository and copy it to /opt/.cisco/certificates/ca/, the directory in which AnyConnect stores its certificates. This should cause the software to recognise the certificate and to stop returning error messages. I have not been able to make this work, however, and not for lack of trying.

OpenConnect

The command-line utility OpenConnect offers an alternative to the above procedure.

You will need to install both OpenConnect and cURL. Binaries of both should be available for your distro of choice via the usual package management.

OpenConnect will need to invoke a shell script that is known as a ‘CSD-wrapper‘, which uses cURL to handle the transfer of data with URL syntax.

Copy the following script (which is adapted from here) into a plain text file, save the file as csd-wrapper.sh, and render it executable:

#!/bin/sh
#set -x

platform_version="x86x64"
device_type="Linux-x86"
device_uniqueid="AAAAAAA"

# delete the csdXXXXXX temp files so they don't start piling up
rm -f $1

exec curl \
--globoff \
--insecure \
--user-agent "AnyConnect Linux" \
--header "X-Transcend-Version: 1" \
--header "X-Aggregate-Auth: 1" \
--header "X-AnyConnect-Identifier-Platform: linux" \
--header "X-AnyConnect-Identifier-PlatformVersion: $platform_version" \
--header "X-AnyConnect-Identifier-DeviceType: $device_type" \
--header "X-AnyConnect-Identifier-Device-UniqueID: $uniqueid" \
--cookie "sdesktop=$CSD_TOKEN" \
--data-ascii @- "https://$CSD_HOSTNAME/+CSCOE+/sdesktop/scan.xml" <<END
endpoint.feature="failure";
endpoint.os.version="Linux";
END

Then issue the following command to establish the VPN connection:

$ sudo openconnect vpn.ucl.ac.uk --csd-wrapper /path/to/csd-wrapper.sh

The network should now prompt you for your username and password. Supply those, and you’re in!

Of course, you might object that running OpenConnect under sudo is less than desirable from a security perspective, and you’d be entirely right about that. There’s a workaround available.

______

Thanks to Emma Cardinal-Richards at UCL’s Information Services Division and to security analyst Dr Name Withheld from W., both of whom provided valuable assistance towards solving this issue!

Dr Rudolf Ammann is the UCLDH Designer at Large and a research associate at the UCL Department of Information Studies. He runs the Arkstack consultancy.

Seminar: Digital technologies and the Herculaneum Papyri

By Simon Mahony, on 11 August 2015

Digital Classicist seminar logoThis week sees the final seminar in this Summer’s series.

Digital Classicist London & Institute of Classical Studies Seminar 2015

Friday August 15 at 16:30 in room G21A, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

Sarah Hendriks (CISPE: Centro Internazionale Studio dei Papiri Ercolanesi, Naples): ‘Digital technologies and the Herculaneum Papyri’

The technology available today could not even be dreamed of over 250 years ago when the Herculaneum Papyri were first discovered. Although technological developments have always been crucial for accessing the papyri, the dawn of the digital age and the subsequent innovations in technological resources have seen a dramatic increase in our ability to read these long-buried texts. Drawing on examples from PHerc. 78, the so-called Caecilius Statius, this paper will outline the history of technology and the Herculaneum papyri, and how changing resources have, and continue to enable, new discoveries among this unique collection.

Hendriks

 

ALL WELCOME

The seminar will be followed by wine and refreshments.

The full abstract is available on the seminar programme page.

 

Seminar: Graecum-Arabicum-Latinum Encoded Corpus (GALEN©)

By Simon Mahony, on 4 August 2015

Digital Classicist seminar logoDigital Classicist London & Institute of Classical Studies Seminar 2015

Friday August 7 at 16:30 in room G21A, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

Usama Gad (Heidelberg): ‘Graecum-Arabicum-Latinum Encoded Corpus (GALEN©)’

 

GALEN is a long-term project to produce the first comprehensive digital corpus of translations between Greek, Arabic and Latin. The project seeks not only to include the medieval translations from Greek into Arabic (8th-10th Century AD) and again from Arabic into Latin (11th -13th Century AD), but also to comprise the modern translations of Greek and Latin literature into Arabic (19th -21st   Century AD). Moreover, the project would ideally include Arabic translations of Greek and Latin Papyri found in Egypt. The main idea behind this project is then to integrate as much Graecum-Arabicum-Latinum sources as one could in both Arabic and classical studies, presenting these sources to both scholars and students in a digital format with open access license CC BY-SA.

Anemonê_ê_phoinikê_25v_Dioscoride_Vienne (1)

ALL WELCOME

The seminar will be followed by wine and refreshments.

The full abstract is available on the seminar programme page.

The full 2015 programme is available on the Digital Classicist London seminar page.

Seminar: DAMOS – Database of Mycenaean at Oslo

By Simon Mahony, on 28 July 2015

digiclas

Digital Classicist London & Institute of Classical Studies Seminar 2015

Friday July 31 at 16:30 in room G21A, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

Federico Aurora (Oslo): ‘DAMOS – Database of Mycenaean at Oslo’

DĀMOS is an annotated corpus of all the published Mycenaean texts, allowing for a corpus linguistics approach to the study of the earliest attested Greek dialect. Text files, reproducing the most updated editions of the texts, have been imported into a relational database (MySql) and are now being annotated for morphology, syntax and lexical information. Noteworthy is that DĀMOS allows for storing multiple, competing analyses of a given linguistic unity (e.g. a word). A rich set of metadata, including – automatically imported – detailed epigraphical information, is also available for searches and can, thus, be crossed with linguistic data. Online edition.

2MY Oi 704 (Mycenae)

ALL WELCOME

The seminar will be followed by wine and refreshments.

The full abstract is available on the seminar programme page.

The full 2015 programme is available on the Digital Classicist London seminar page.

Seminar: A Collection of Greek Ritual Norms (CGRN)

By Simon Mahony, on 21 July 2015

Digital Classicist seminar logo

Digital Classicist London & Institute of Classical Studies Seminar 2015

Friday July 24 at 16:30 in room G21A, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

Saskia Peels (Liège): ‘A Collection of Greek Ritual Norms Project (CGRN)’

This talk presents the project A Collection of Greek Ritual Norms, abbreviated CGRN (University of Liège). The CGRN is an online collection and database of over 200 Greek inscriptions with a religious subject matter, notably normative texts concerning sacrifice and purification. Using the EpiDoc XML standard, we have lemmatized the inscriptions and encoded geographic, chronological and thematic information, so that this corpus will be searchable in many different ways. Thus, our website serves not only scholars wanting to study individual inscriptions, but we hope that our tool may further our understanding of what are usually called ‘sacred laws’ more generally.

CGRN-project

As always the seminar will be followed by discussion over wine and refrshments.

ALL WELCOME

The full abstract is available on the seminar programme page.

The full 2015 programme is available on the Digital Classicist London seminar page.

 

Digital Classicist seminar: Integrating Digital Epigraphies (IDEs)

By Simon Mahony, on 14 July 2015

Digital Classicist seminar logoDigital Classicist London & Institute of Classical Studies Seminar 2015

Friday July 17th at 16:30, in Room G21A, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Hugh Cayless (Duke)

‘Integrating Digital Epigraphies (IDEs)’

 

Integrating Digital Epigraphies (IDEs) is being developed as a Linked Data platform for digital epigraphy. The first round of development leverages data from partner projects including the PHI’s Searchable Greek Inscriptions project, the SEG, the Claros concordance of epigraphical publication data, and epigraphy articles in JSTOR to develop a set of web services. Identifiers from any of the projects may be used to retrieve related data from any of the others. The goal of IDEs is not to be a portal or aggregator superseding partner projects, but a data hub that allows all of them to leverage each other’s work.

500x375

As always the seminar will be followed by discussion over wine and refrshments.

ALL WELCOME

The full abstract is available on the seminar programme page.

The full 2015 programme is available on the Digital Classicist London seminar page.

UCLDH academic promotions

By Sarah Davenport, on 10 July 2015

We’re very pleased to announce that many of our UCLDH team members have been successful in the 2014-15 round of academic promotions!

– Tim Weyrich, Deputy Director of UCLDH, has been promoted to Professor of Visual Computing

– Julianne Nyhan, Oliver Duke Williams and Antonis Bikakis have all been promoted to Senior Lecturer

Many congratulations to all, very well deserved. All positions are effective as of 1st October 2015

 

Seminar:

By Simon Mahony, on 7 July 2015

Digital Classicist seminar logoDigital Classicist London & Institute of Classical Studies Seminar 2015

Friday July 10th at 16:30 in room G21A, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

Monica Berti (Leipzig), Gregory R. Crane (Tufts & Leipzig), Kenny Morrell (Center for Hellenic Studies)

‘Sunoikisis DC – An International Consortium of Digital Classics Programs’Berti_Image

Sunoikisis DC is an international consortium of Digital Classics programs developed by the Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities at the University of Leipzig in collaboration with the Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies. Sunoikisis DC aims at reaching a global audience and offers collaborative courses that foster interdisciplinary paradigms of learning and allow students of both the humanities and computer science to work together by contributing to digital classics projects in a collaborative environment. The goal of this talk is to present the activities of the consortium and its results.

As always the seminar will be followed by discussion over wine and refrshments.

ALL WELCOME

The full abstract is available on the seminar programme page.

The full 2015 programme is available on the Digital Classicist London seminar page.

How well do Google image results represent reality?

By Oliver W Duke-Williams, on 23 June 2015

Much has been written about Sir Tim Hunt’s remarks at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul earlier this month. The debate has developed in a number of directions, including a discussion about the gender representation in images returned by Google’s image search, with a specific example being made of the male-dominated results when using the search term ‘professor’. Writing in The Guardian, Dame Athene Donald observed:

If you think that doesn’t matter, imagine you are a 12-year-old girl trying to get a sense of what the adult professional world is like. If the only images that appear against the search term of “professor” are either elderly white males or cartoons of men in white coats with sticking-up hair, as a girl you are hardly likely to think it is the sort of career aspiration you should be considering.

The representation of ‘professor’ is of course problematic in a number of ways: as well as being shown as male, professors are also shown as sterotypically balding and bespectacled. Similarly stereotype-driven images are de rigeur in children’s literature, as documented by Professor Melissa Terras. A natural response to this observation is to wonder what the gender representation of other jobs looks like through the prism of Google Images. Are they similarly one-sided? For example, although the Women’s World Cup is under way at the time of writing, searching for ‘footballer’ returns an entirely male set of results. As with the case for professors, this would not encourage a girl to think that football is a sport for all.

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