11.0210 grumbling code

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Fri, 1 Aug 1997 21:21:31 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 210.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Fri, 1 Aug 97 10:39:08 CST
From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: Code problems/archiving

This is a grumble, not a call for help, unless it be looked upon as a call
for help on the part of our profession. These may be anecdotes, but they are
literally true:

1. I just received an e-mail from a Spanish friend of mine. Every extended
ASCII character was represented as =FNumber or symbols to that effect. Not a
real problem, though I have another friend whose name I do not know, since
the last letter of his name is =ENum. I don't have a conversion routine for
such things, so I guess I will write one. Grumble, grumble.

2. When working with out library, I always capture my sessions, and get a
capfile.out in ASCII and can do what I want with it. Now, my capfile.out is
filled with escape codes of the form <-[[ etc. (you know what I mean). I do
not have a scrubber for them; I guess I will write one, if I can remember my
ANSI. Grumble, grumble.

3. I have inherited a very useful book catalog written in ProCite 2.1 on a
Mac, and I am a PC freak. Even if it weren't there would be conversion

4. I received a bunch of .tif files of manuscript pages the person wants me
to work with. My graphics browser tells me that they are not proper .tif
files. Probably have to debug them and put in good headers.

5. When calling libraries from home, I have always used lynx (a library does
not usually come in pictures, especially if you want bibliography). My
library, for its own secret reasons, does not permit interrogating databases
with lynx; you must use netscape. From home?!

6. I just received a mime-encoded message. When I extracted it, it needed to
be unzipped. After being unzipped, it had a self-extracting .exe file, which
put out things that had to be installed in Windows 3.1.

Enough of this. I overcame, mit Muehe und Not, as we Germans put it, all
these problems, but it took some time and, on occasions, a little ingenuity.
I have little of either. What we need is at least an attempt to standardize
on the part of our nurturers/providers. We need conversion programs, of
course, to convert between platforms, but we also need conversion routines
for other things. How do you convert those great big disks? Can anybody
read them? It is getting where no one can even read 5 1/4s. How about old

I have not even gotten into things such as encoding foreign languages; I
thought Unicode was going to save us, but nobody seems to use it much.

These are not always frivolous problems. How about the mag tapes and paper
tapes, not to mention the punch cards (and edge-punched cards) or yesteryear?
We have the same problem I have converting my old 78s to something that a
modern machine will play. Or what do you do with old tapes? I just saw
about 100 of them on a junk pile outside of my building. I have kept my old
tape recorder just so I could read the Zwirner tapes at 3 1/4. Que faire?
Jim Marchand.

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