Many, many, years ago, I had both the leisure and the motivation to produce monthly reports on my activities. Many of these documents have long since vanished, but a few survive. They present a strange world in which some names and terms since very familiar jostle with others long since obscured by the passage of time. In preparing them for the web, I've added minimal formatting and (where I can find them) links to any other documents mentioned or related, but otherwise these are unrevised and unrepentant instances of the written persona I cultivated at that time.
I was perforce on leave for most of December 1985 so the fact that this report covers two months is probably not worth mentioning. Anyway, while the machinery (and indeed the nation) dried out after the Christmas Crash, I sorted and filed most of my 1985 correspondence. Nearly all of the 10 cm deep pile of documents related to Text Archive matters, which are clearly going to occupy a disproportionate amount of my time.
I learned how to use EDT and rapidly produced several documents, or maybe the same document in different disguises: viz a paper on CAFS for the Replacement Committee, an M-series user guide on ditto, and a Newsletter article on same. I also wrote two book reviews for a paper not printed in Wapping (or indeed anywhere else) at present and a plea for money to re-implement the text archive management system on a micro. The Text Archive database was updated and a new snapshot made generally available. Eight tapes were despatched to various places, a total of 28 texts. About 15 letters etc. were also despatched this month.
Started off two Famulus users and one PDS user. Spent ages on the Protestant Cemetery database: this integrates a file of text (graveyard inscriptions) with a PDS database of more conventional information, so that you can do CAFS searches of the whole lot. It doesnt work, for reasons yet to be determined, though the number of bugs in QUERYMASTER I found in the KEL when I looked cannot be entirely irrelevant. I started writing a program to convert the TLG texts to CAFS searchable form at last, in the intervals of worrying about preparing my CAFS seminars.
A new window was installed in my office. I engaged in ad hoc discussions about the 2988 Replacement OR with anyone who'd listen. I went to a seminar at PRG on Babbage, (Chas); there is a project to build a working Difference Engine, it transpires, by 1991, the 200th anniversary of his birth. Whether this will be included in the tender for the 2988 Replacement was not mentioned.
A month of talking, mostly, leavened by some software developments.
Prepared and gave two seminars on CAFS to a few discerning people: not entirely wasted effort however, as I was able to recycle them (together with yet another repeat of Paul & my CAFS set piece) for an invited lecture at Kingston Poly. A lengthy chat I had last month with someone called Sarson on the telephone reappeared only slightly garbled in the Grauniad. Another hack, working for ICL this time, came to interview me and Paul in person: he also bought lunch.
Days out included one here at the University CAFS meeting, addressed by P. Wiles on secondary indexing (The Advancd CAFS Option - of which, perhaps, more anon) and H. Carmichael on INDEPOL. Further afield, I went to Beaumont for the DCI-200 Field Trial meeting (see visit report) and somewhere in deepest Surrey to see Gould's Hypersearch. The latter (formerly MEMEX) lived up to the first syllable of its new name: they failed completely to demonstrate it, preferring to wax lyrical about their new ruggedized Unix.
Spent some time writing program to convert TLG Greek texts into CAFS searchable form, retaining all the useless junk (e.g. "advance 39 quarter - spaces") which these wasted Californian hippies appear to regard as essential, while making it invisible, and also attempting to carve the text into sensible chunks for retrieval purposes. Not so easy when you can't read Greek. Continued improving user interface to my text searching program.
The usual selection of excitements (the Ashmolean database filled its journal; various Famulus users needed bailing out; a new PDS application started; I thought I'd found a new bug in Querymaster but I hadn't; QM-250 finally appeared!!; a hardware modification to CAFS proved less then effective; wrote 6 Text Archive tapes -- can't tell you how many texts because TOMES is currently inaccessible -- and responded to about 15 enquiries of various kinds; one new text was acquired; a man from OUP bought me lunch and suggested I wrote a bookette on databases) were enlivened by my first ever audio-conference. This novel experience involved me, S. Rahtz in Southampton, T. Corns in Bangor, N. Heather and friends in London, M. Smith also in London and a nice British Telecom lady in Plymouth. As a way of getting a sore ear it's nearly as good as hitting yourself with a rock; as a linguistic experience it's odd. The subject was how (and whether) arts undergraduates should be taught computing; the only person who said anything remotely sensible was Sebastian, probably because he's the only person who actually does it for a living.
In April, I went to the ALLC's annual international conference, this year at UEA in Norwich, on which I produced a Report in which occurs the first (oblique) reference to what later became the TEI.* Text Archive Wrote a program to split the CATSS database in half, thus providing us with reasonably accurate texts of both Greek and Hebrew versions of the Old Testament. Caught up with the back log (x tapes, n letters). Acquired: new "Computer Usable Version" of OALDCE from London; also first ever musical text (Bach's Well Tempered Clavier). Organised purchase of TOMES micro system, now on order. Visited by W.Hewlett (as in H-Packard) who did not immediately offer money, alas. Two major breakthroughs in communication did occur however: firstly, Charles' MSG was enhanced to the point of being quite useful; secondly, as a result of being pestered by someone in Saskatoon, I actually tried to use EARN (instead of ARPANET) and by gum it works a treat. The need for a new factsheet/glossy on the Text Archive continues to worry me, as do repeated enquiries (3 so far) about incorporating it into various CD-ROM prototypes. Watch this space.
* Famulus77 Sent a definitive list of bugs to Edinburgh. Wrote the paper which I gave last month and got it to E.Anglia well before the deadline. Spent ages with [HUBBLE] who is now happy at last. She and another user have coincidentally asked for a facility which is (regrettably) both reasonable and impossible. Discussed briefly enhancing FAMFILE with visitors from Liverpool; it seems that the IUSC Database Working Party has been reduced to reliance on Famulus, smirk smirk.
* CAFS Tested DCI200 + IDMS with sample retrieval program on Beazley database. One software notice and three phonecalls later it worked! Spent a day messing about with Homer, Xenophon and the Rev Burridge. TLG on CAFS remains problematic. Corrected bug in Bodley conversion program and produced new version of ICC database for librarians of Corpus and Balliol to play with. In response to pressure from these projects and also from the RSL started major tarting up of text searching program. Started writing YAPOWOC (Yet Another Paper on Wonders Of Cafs) for Susan's mag.
* AOB Wasted much time on apparent bug in DDS: what formerly took a minute or so now seems to need more than 20 mins cpu. Produced several trees worth of diagnostics in response to which ICL produced some faintly plausible, but as it happens inappropriate explanations. This one could run and run.
The new Ashmolean Data Manager called to discuss the ARIADNE project and give me my cards. They are planning to implement it all on an AT under UNIX, hem hem.
No visits anywhere and only one free lunch. Shame.
In November, I went to Canada for the second Conference on New Oxford English Dictionary preceded by my first trip to Toronto.