Every (Major) Thing I've Ever Worked On, In Reverse Chronological Order
Town Square Delaware
My first major project outside of Sanford was creating a new website for Town Square Delaware, a local news organization. The major goal with the project was to update the site to solve the problems caused by antiquated WordPress plugins and themes and generally provide a more flexible platform to attract more readers.
The site's foundation is built in WordPress, as it was imperative that the existing tens of thousands of images and posts remain in their current form. To assist the server with the traffic spikes, the site is wrapped with Cloudflare, and the WordPress core is integrated with an email system to send newsletters to the site's hundreds of subscribers.
The major difficulty with the project arose in transferring the massive amount of pre-existing content, as the hosting company had physical storage constraints that prevented using WordPress's standard import and export processes. I ended up circumventing the problem by using FTP's sequential file downloading and uploading, because the lack of zipping or copying on the server prevented running into storage issues.
Whereas my projects within Sanford were done in tandem with the IT department and thus they could provide maintanence, there was no such existing support network for Town Square Delaware. So, in addition to providing assistance myself, it was imperative to make the site need as little maintanence as possible. Automation is used wherever possible in the WordPress backend, and for things that can't be done automatically, I created a series of video tutorials on, for instance, changing the ads on the site or even changing the site layout.
Sanford News Network: Meritocracy
During my tenth grade year at Sanford, I worked on an experiment to redesign the student leadership structure of the Sanford News Network student media program. The concept was combine the principles of meritocracies with the progression and reward systems of video games.
The human aspect of the project involved working with both the faculty media advisor and the other students in the program to determine what could be improved and what leadership heirarchy would work best. It was apparent from early on the importance of creating a system that could be both granularly controlled by the school's administration and rapidly accessed in a streamlined way by the students.
The technological aspect of the project was done primarily using FileMaker Pro, database software with robust user-interface designing capabilities. The system I created was hosted on small server kept on the local school network, and it allowed members to create and edit projects similar to project management software, faculty to assign points to the different contributors on a project, and students to spend the points on a variety of rewards, like academic co-curricular credits or titles within the program. The ability to earn Sanford's academic co-curricular credits made the software very popular among some of the students, which presented its own challenges both in terms of handling load and also in terms of securing the software in a manner that satisfied the school administration.
Sanford News Network: Website
My first major experience building a website came towards the end of my freshman year at Sanford. The Sanford News Network student media program contracted out the website to a third party company, and since the company was doing no more than packaging WordPress and charging for it, there was an opportunity to gain customizations and lower costs by moving the website in-house.
The project involved an overhaul of Sanford News Network's web presence, including not only redesigning and rebuilding the website but also changing the main domain name from sanfordnewsnetwork.com to the shorter sanfordnews.net and creating a graphic design style that reflecting the group's move from classic student newspaper club to livestreaming and online media.
Sanford News Network: Livestreaming
My first project at Sanford was building infrastructure to allow the Sanford News Network student media program to livestream different events not only at the school but at remote locations as well.
A major component of the project was making the technology as accessible as possible, because it was apparent early on that it wouldn't always be technically proficient people operating it at all times. In many such cases, products marketed to consumers are the most inuitive and straightforward avaliable, but in this instance, the need for multiple high-quality camera and mic inputs and an ability to produce the livestream on the fly meant that consumer-level technology would become too convoluted.
So, rather than building the system around a laptop and HDMI to USB converters, I built it in a portable DJ server rack using professional level components and an embedded custom desktop computer. That setup allowed me to wire everything in place such that a student video crew can move the portable rack, plug it in to power and plug the cameras into it, and start a livestream. Other than the computer, the system has a rack-mounted baudio mixer, wireless mic receiver, power strip, cabinet, display, keyboard, and mouse. It has connectivity via ethernet, a long range WiFi card, and 4G LTE. To an extent, the livestreaming system has been an ongoing project, as I worked sporadically throughout highschool on updating and improving the system as needed.