Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “genalogical research”

askSam 6.1

I’ve been using the askSam database software for 17 years, and this year my wife bought me an upgrade to the latest version for Christmas, and I’ve been playing with some of the new features.

If you are doing any kind of research, askSam is one of the best tools for keeping your notes and documents in order. It’s a freeform text database that lets you find anything you put into it, and also allows you to have fixed fields for sorting.

I started using it when I persuaded the university departments I was working in to use it for journal abstracts and a terminology database. I’d read reviews of it in computer magazines, and it sounded as though it would be one of the best tools for the job. It was.

Back then it was the DOS version.

It was easy to get started using it — you simply tossed information in and it would fish it out again. But to get the best out of it required quite a lot of learning, and to learn to use it I tried it out on different kinds of applications — making notes from books, genealogical research, keeping track of correspondence, keeping a log of various activities. For all of these things, it worked very well.

Back then we also used the XyWrite word processor, and XyWrite’s formatting was done using codes similar to HTML markup, so it was easy to produce askSam reports that were fully-formatted XyWrite documents. Reports could be imported into e-mail for sharing information. It worked just as well for exporting data to web pages.

For a long time I resisted the Windows version, but the new version has several features that older ones did not. One of them is the ability to import, link to and attach documents. So you can use it to keep track of word processor documents, PDF files and the like. It handles MS Word documents, pdf files (text only) and RTF files as well. It is somewhat limited in not handling Open Office files, for example, though those can be exported to rtf of pdf format.

If you do any kind of research, especially in the humanities, and want to keep your research notes in order, I definitely recommend askSam. I’ve found it useful for genealogy research, theological research and articles (keeping notes for my MTh dissertation and DTh thesis) and much more.

If this sounds like the sort of program you could use, you can read more about it (and download a 30-day trial version) at the askSam web site.

Advertisements

Computer illiteracy rife among British civil servants

Over the last few months British news media have been reporting that government agencies have been losing computer data regularly.

The mind boggles at such a level of computer illiteracy — have the civil servants in so many different government departments and agencies not learned of the need to make backups of important data?

clipped from news.sky.com

Thousands of confidential records belonging to NHS patients have gone missing in the latest data scandal to hit the Government.

Breaches in nine NHS trusts

Breaches in nine NHS trusts

Nine NHS trusts are now known to have lost data that was stored on either CDs or memory sticks.

Notes about 160,000 children were reportedly lost by London’s City Hackney Primary Care Trust after a computer disc failed to arrive at its destination.

The losses were disclosed as police continued to hunt for two HM Revenue & Customs computer discs containing the details of 25m child benefit claimants.

blog it

I remarked on this in some genealogy newsgroups, expressing concern about various records used by genealogists and family historians, and the danger of their being lost as well. Some said that the records were not actually lost, but that it was just copies of the records that had been mislaid. But if that is so, it is the British news media that are being irresponsible, in deliberately trying to create the wrong impression. Journalists have been using computers to file stories for the last 30-40 years. I cannot believe that there is any journalist in Britain working for a major newspaper or broadcaster who does not know what “lost data” means.

But there were also reports that officials were calling on those who had applied for driving tests to contact the officials concerned to remake their appointments — why would they be asked to do that if the data concerning their appointments had not indeed been lost?

So is it the civil servants who are computer illiterate, or the journalists, or both?

Genealogists await outcome of Manto health records case

If the Sunday Times is taken to court over the matter of the health minister’s hospital records, genealogists will be watching the case with a keen interest in the outcome, since it may clarify questions about who owns documents generated by government departments, and who holds the copyright, if anyone.

Genealogists are up in arms over a ban on using digital cameras in the Cape Archives. No reason has been given for the ban, but there are rumours that the Department of Education, Arts and Culture, which controls the archives, is being sued over copies of divorce records that are said to have appeared on a web site. There are also rumours that otgher archives depots may also ban the use of digital cameras.

Divorce records are part of the records of the courts, and so are public documents, though there are restrictions on the media reporting of divorce cases. Until recently genealogical researchers used digital cameras to copy archival documents, and study them at their leisure when they got home, and there had been no objections to this practice.

The outcome of a court case about the publication of the contents of a person’s medical recordfs could clarify some of the wider issues, even if it does not resolve them.

Post Navigation