Moving Stories: A Platform for Mapping Narratives and Networks of People in Diaspora

My colleague, Anita Fabos, and I received funding from the Henry J. and Edna D. Leir to hold together an international workshop on mapping refugee narratives that will take place in Remich, Luxembourg in June 2017. This will be an intensive 3-day workshop that is bringing together anthropologists, web and graphics designers, cartographers, historians. The first community we will be trying to map will be the Mandaean refugee narratives of displacement, settlement, and home. This will, of course, be layered with arts, religious texts, pictures, videos, and whatever else we can access.

This will be an open source platform that will be open for crowdsourcing for any group.

Stay tuned for more details!

Final 2017 Fabos Sarkis conference poster

Morality: It’s not just for humans Latest research from Frans de Waal, one of the leading researchers on primate behavior. His latest research is looking at cooperation, fairness, and reciprocity among chimps. Most interestingly, it looks like chimps share with humans the tendency to yawn when someone else they know yawns, which is understood to be a sign of empathy. I am looking forward to his upcoming book on Bonobos and humanism.

Coming Back to Coldfusion

Over the last month, I had to reach back into the deep recesses of my brain and pull out some old and dusty knowledge about CF. There are a lot of things that changed since I used it 12 years ago, but in many ways, it still works pretty much the same.

This time around, I am not just interacting with the database, but I am doing some on the fly data analysis, and that took a while to figure out, but thanks to the wonderful IT people at school who helped me get unstuck, I have now a semi-functioning application.

Where I am not liking CF is with its charting customization. Sure there are different types of charts one can add, but the customization is very limited, and the documentation on the customization is even worse.

So I am on the search for some charting engines that will allow me to visualize my data. I tried a number of them this afternoon, but either they were undocumented, or the documentation was terribly written, or just really quirky and did not work. Overall, I think I tried seven different engines, to no avail.

Even though my CF skills are slowly coming back, my Javascript is incredibly rusty, and I don’t feel comfortable enough to tackle that yet.

Yet, I have to admit, despite the frustration of having to kick my brain back into programming gear, I am actually enjoying all this work, and discovering this level of programming all over again. Sure it’s a time sucker, but it’s a fun time sucker.

Copying all files in subdirectories into another directory

In a previous post about Exporting from Endnote to Zotero, I wanted to find out how to copy all the files in the subdirectories into a separate directory without the subdirectories

Instead of having:


– .pdf

Directory 2

– .pdf

I wanted to have:


– .pdf1

– .pdf2


A little search on Google led me to a nice batch script (Thank you StackOverflow!. To run it, go into the PDF directory where Zotero or Endnote for that matter keep their files.

Notepad Treecopy.bat

Type the following:

@echo off
if %1’==’ goto usage
if %2’==’ goto usage
if %3’==’ goto usage
for /D %%F in (%1\*) do xcopy %%F\%2 %3 /D /Y
for /D %%F in (%1\*.) do call TreeCopy %%F %2 %3
goto end
@echo Usage: TreeCopy [Source folder] [Search pattern] [Destination folder]
@echo Example: TreeCopy C:\Users\Marianne\Dropbox\Library\CBHR.Data\PDF *.pdf C:\Users\Marianne\Dropbox\Library\CBHR.Data\exports

Go back to your command prompt, type Treecopy [the full path of source directory] *.pdf [full path of target directory]

That’s it! Brilliant!

Getting back Coldfusion “Save As” options in Dreamweaver CC

I still have mixed feelings about Adobe’s move to the Cloud with CC. I have been using DW at least for ten years now. While the discounted price for academics is an excellent deal, there is a high overhead price to be paid for the move. While some applications have improved dramatically, many have become more of memory hogs and my poor 4Gig laptop is being pushed to its limits to just keep up.

One of the more annoying/frustrating changes to my work that Adobe made in this move is in Dreamweaver by discontinuing support for Coldfusion. While I have never used all the CF features that DW had, it was still convenient for me to create .cfm and .cfc files as I needed them, and then switch over to “Code” mode and code away with syntax highlighting. And, DW decided to stop associating the application with my files, so that every time I wanted to open my files, I had to choose the application all over again.

After many hours spent digging on the internet, I found at least one way to get some of this functionality back. Here they are:

Getting back the “Save As” .cfm and .cfc option for CF Files

  1. Go to your C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Dreamweaver CC\en_US\Configuration
  2. Create a copy of Extensions.txt (Yup! a .txt file)
  3. Open Extensions.txt with your favorite text editor like Notepad and add the following line at the bottom: CFM,CFC:Coldfusion Files
  4. Save and restart Dreamweaver

Instructing Dreamweaver to open .cfc and .cfm files

  1. From Dreamweaver, go to Edit > Preferences > File Types/Editors
  2. Under “Please choose external applications to associate with Dreamweaver” click on + on the left side panel
  3. Enter .cfm .cfc under “Extensions”
  4. In the right panel under “Editors” click on the + sign
  5. Locate your Dreamweaver from the pop-up window. Mine is located here: C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Adobe Dreamweaver CC\Dreamweaver.exe
  6. Where it says “Open in Code view” add .cfc and .cfm to open the files directly in Code view rather than Design view.
  7. Click Apply and return to DW

As I said, I rarely used DW to connect to my DSN, so I am not sure what to do for that. I was mainly concerned about the editor.

Alternatively, you can download another HTML editor that might have similar capabilities and bypass Dreamweaver altogether. Oneextrapixel has a really nice list of alternatives to Dreamweaver.

Software for student projects

Since almost all the courses I teach have a community-based team project, every semester I struggle with the most efficient way to have students work in a collaborative environment where I am allowed to participate as well.

At the university we use Moodle, which for what it is, it is ok. But the UI is painful. For the last few years I have been using Dropbox and supplementing it with email for communication, and Moodle for project submission.

This approach makes three false assumptions:

– Students use email to communicate with each other

– Students can learn to love Dropbox

– Students can use Dropbox and email to keep organized

Every semester, these assumptions get reinforced. Students want the ability to work collaboratively sometimes at the same time as they are discussing the material, so they use Google Docs, which means that they sometimes forget to share it with me. They want a master calendar of sorts, and want to be able to create and track tasks, and keep their information organized.

This semester, one of my students referred me to Basecamp, which looked very promising. Students in one group are using it, and seem to be liking it, especially since there is a redundancy in the communication as students get mailed the discussions happening online that they might not be checking.

So far, here is my review.


– Basecamp is a good software that has what I need from it in the sense that it will keep everything in one place

– It is very easy to learn and use

– It has a very slick and nice UI


– Limited trial error

– $20 for 10 projects and 3GB of space

– No educational license.

– No gantt chart.

– No Outlook integration from the Basecamp side. I keep all my dates, etc. in my Outlook calendar, and it would be great to integrate the two.

10 projects is nothing! Every semester I have at least seven class-based projects, not counting my own personal projects.

So, now back to the drawing board. What I need is this:

Priority 1:

– Online software

– Educational license or reasonably priced license.

– Gantt chart

– Reporting

– More than 10 projects at a time

– Ability to archive non-active projects

Priority 2:

– Integration with Dropbox

– Expanded space

– Integration with Outlook Calendar

Priority 3:

– Android and iPhone apps


That’s all. Is that so much to ask for?

Frustrating data research

For those of us who work with governmental data sets, it is absolutely essential that we have clear, clean, and happy data sets to work with. Dataferret used to work on some occasions, but much of the data on there is way out of date.

At minimum, any data files should be:

– In a universal format like .dat or .asc or even .txt.

– Have a clear databook to go with it

– And, it would be fantastic to have a script file like an .sas and .sps file to go with it.

It should not be taking me two full days for me to a) find the linked birth/death infant data, and b) try to figure out how to enter it into SPSS, and c) actually read it in SPSS by having some sorts of variables and a description. There are over 600 fields in the data file, it is nearly impossible to put everything by hand.

If anyone has some tips, please let me know.