Watching Clouds - Joshua Schank's Blog

Welcome to Watching Clouds - Joshua Schank's Blog! This blog of mine was created because I enjoyed reading The Times and Travels of Nolan, a blog created by my friend Nolan Meister back when we were undergraduates in the School of Meteorology at OU. This blog will be a collection of my favorite memories and will not follow a particular theme. I hope you enjoy them and thank you for reading!



Watching Clouds - Finishing Senior Year at OU

As of this post, this upcoming Friday marks my final two weeks as an undergraduate in the School of Meteorology at OU. Being home while I finish my degree remotely has been somewhat tough with the change of where I learn and do my homework as everything must be done online from the comfort of my own home. I also miss my fellow classmates and fellow OWL members as I prepare to step down as OWL's Director of Development. Lucky for me, my obligations for OWL are very easy to do online as my main duties revolve around the OWL website and continue development of new products. I only regret I never got to reinstall the WRF model back on the server.


Watching Clouds - The Beginning of My Time as Director of Development for OWL

I am writing this post as a record that may be used by an OWL's Historian when they update the History of OWL page, and if you happen to be a member of OWL who is visiting my website I would like to welcome you as an former OWL member and Director of Development!

I was asked to become Director of Development by then OWL President Nolan Meister and lead HOOT, OWL's development team, and rebuild OWL's website during the spring semester of 2019, my junior year at OU. I had just finished serving as Director of Shifts for a year where I showed dedication to maintaining OWL's technology. At the time I had built a primitive website through OU Create where I practiced writing forecast discussions and viewed weather data uploaded by the same weather station that uploads to this site. The OWL website at the time was basicly nonexistent as server updates in 2015 lead to the slow collapse of the website, and HOOT's last two members graduated that year. So, at the end of the spring semester, before taking finals, I began work on the OWL website and started with the temporary Wordpress site that was being used as a proof of concept by previous directors. After spending a couple of days with it I decided to scrap it and build a website from scratch with the scraps of code and external css and jquery scripts I could find on the server during previous attempts to rebuild the website before they created the Wordpress site.

Real progress on the website happened during the summer before my senior year, especially during the months of June and July, as I had to stop work on the website to focus on finals and complete some summer work to raise some money for my senior year. I started with the home page and learned how to use external css style sheets such as bootstrap 4.0 to quickly format all the pages of the website so they shared a similar theme/style. The first pages I created with the help of then Historian Bruce Pollock were the social media page and the OWL board page. Also, during that time I helped Bruce find some of OWL's history by using the Wayback Machine on the internet archive website archive.org to view the old OWL website from 2015. My main goal the rest of the summer was to recreate the forecast discussion page that I saw on the old website and finish the login system for the website before school began mid-August.

I finished the first version of the discussion page at the beginning of August and the OWL board, especially Nolan, loved it, but I quickly discovered that having to log into the OWL server to edit the webpage was difficult for members to learn without me walking them through all the steps several times as most people did not have experience working with HTML code or Linux commands. So, I set out to create a system that once members logged into the OWL website they could edit the discussion directly on the webpage. It took me a week to write the javascript and php code to make it happen but I completed it for the offical first week of OWL shifts.

That wraps up my brief summary of the beginnings of my time as Director of Development for OWL. If you want more details about my time as director you can read the archive of my blog as director at Developer's Corner - Between the Code.

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