Week Beginning 20th December 2021

This was the last week before Christmas and it’s a four-day week as the University has generously given us all an extra day’s holiday on Christmas Eve.  I also lost a bit of time due to getting my Covid booster vaccine on Wednesday.  I was booked in for 9:50 and got there at 9:30 to find a massive queue snaking round the carpark.  It took an hour to queue outside, plus about 15 minutes inside, but I finally got my booster just before 11.  The after-effects kicked in during Wednesday night and I wasn’t feeling great on Thursday, but I managed to work.

My major task of the week was to deal with the new Innerpeffray data for the Books and Borrowing project.  I’d previously uploaded data from an existing spreadsheet in the early days of the project, but it turns out that there were quite a lot of issues with the data and therefore one of the RAs has been creating a new spreadsheet containing reworked data.  The RA Kit got back to me this week after I’d checked some issues with her last week and I therefore began the process of deleting the existing data and importing the new data.

I was a pretty torturous process but I managed to finish deleting the existing Innerpeffray data and imported the new data.  This required a pretty complex amount of processing and checking via a script I wrote this week.  I managed to retain superscript characters in the transcriptions, something that proved to be very tricky as there is no way to find and replace superscript characters in Excel.  Eventually I ended up copying the transcription column into Word, then saving the table as HTML, stripping out all of the rubbish Word adds in when it generates an HTML file and then using this resulting file alongside the main spreadsheet file that I saved as a CSV.  After several attempts at running the script on my local PC, then fixing issues, then rerunning, I eventually reckoned the script was working as it should – adding page, borrowing, borrower, borrower occupation, book holding and book item records as required.  I then ran the script on the server and the data is now available via the CMS.

There were a few normalised occupations that weren’t right and I updated these.  There were also 287 standardised titles that didn’t match any existing book holding records in Innerpeffray.  For these I created a new holding record and (if there’s an ESTC number) linked to a corresponding edition.

Also this week I completed work on the ‘Guess the Category’ quizzes for the Historical Thesaurus.  Fraser had got back to me about the spreadsheets of categories and lexemes that might cause offence and should therefore never appear in the quiz.  I added a new ‘inquiz’ column to both the category and lexeme table which has been set to ‘N’ for each matching category and lexeme.  I also updated the code behind the quiz so that only categories and lexemes with ‘inquiz’ set to ‘Y’ are picked up.

The category exclusions are pretty major – a total of 17,111 are now excluded.  This is due to including child categories where noted, and 8340 of these are within ’03.08 Faith’.  For lexemes there are a total of 2174 that are specifically noted as excluded based on both tabs of the spreadsheet (but note that all lexemes in excluded categories are excluded by default – a total of 69099).  The quiz picks a category first and then a lexeme within it, so there should never be a case where a lexeme in an excluded category is displayed.  I also ensured that when a non-noun category is returned if there isn’t a full trail of categories (because there isn’t a parent in the same part of speech) then the trail is populated from the noun categories instead.

The two quizzes (a main one and an Old English one) are now live and can be viewed here:



Also this week I made a couple of tweaks to the Comparative Kingship place-names systems, adding in Pictish as a language and tweaking how ‘codes’ appear in the map.  I also helped Raymond migrate the Anglo-Norman Dictionary to the new server that was purchased earlier this year.  We had to make a few tweaks to get the site to work at a temporary URL but it’s looking good now.  We’ll update the DNS and make the URL point to the new server in the New Year.

That’s all for this year.  If there is anyone reading this (doubtful, I know) I wish you a merry Christmas and all the best for 2022!