Tag Archives: research

A Mausoleum, A Magazine, and Networking

More History Basics today. The post on Bushmead Priory took about a week to concoct. That was the only completed post I had in reserve. So today, I rather anticipated putting up a bunch of researchy links for some posts, to come back and edit later.

But the place I wrote about over there today, didn’t seem to have a lot in the way of work that had been done on it, and there were a lot less Other Things that it was part of, so I surprised myself by writing the whole post in a day (which is kind of the intent).

The post over there was about a 17th century mausoleum. It’s intact, and stuck on the side of what looks to be a functional church. Not much in the way of research has needed to happen around the site, though there has been some. I had a bit of fun when there was a reference to “‘The Gentlemans Magazine’ in Monuments of the Grey Family at Flitton”. What’s a gentleman’s magazine doing there? Turns out that The Gentleman’s Magazine was a twice-yearly publication that went for nearly 200 years, and when I found the volume in question, it turned out there were over 650 pages. Some magazine. The first digitised copy I found was on archive.org, and it was missing those particular pages. Google Books had a scan with those pages intact. The Gentleman’s Magazine also has the distinction of being the first magazine to use the term “magazine”. So while 678 (IIRC) pages sounds like a lot, it just means our current magazines are just slacking.

You learn something new every day.

I’ve been thinking about doing Facebook pages for this site and History Basics. On the plus side, if I invite my friends to like those pages, that’s an initial burst of awareness. On the negative side, someone going back over their feed isn’t guaranteed to see all that they are subscribed to, unless you pay Facebook. And, maybe it’s down to the time of day that I post that I’ve blogged here, but I don’t get a great deal of interaction on the stuff there. I’ve been considering using Ello, as they don’t hide content that you’ve subscribed to see, the drawback there being that I don’t think many people I know are on there. If you are on Ello, follow me at https://ello.co/commander_frog, and I’ll start doing more stuff over there.

The New Site Is Live!

Let me start by saying a little about what I did.

I installed the plugins. One to help with site administration is Google Analytics by Yoast, and one to help with content presentation is Geo Mashup.

The site I unveil today, is History Basics.

Sometimes, information about the past is very forthcoming, and sometimes it’s not very forthcoming at all. There has been a lot of archaeological work that has happened, but sometimes finding out about it is non-intuitive. Documentation may be in a local, national, or international publication, or in a book, or perhaps it may be entirely unpublished.

There are frequently articles about archaeological finds, and it seems that a lot of them do not mention who’s doing the work.

Also, what we do have isn’t necessarily safe. Sometimes finds corrode or erode quickly after they’ve been discovered. Sometimes care isn’t taken with objects: how much more might we know about ancient Egyptian practices if rich Victorians hadn’t had a penchant for mummy-unwrappings. And in the riots in Egypt a couple of years back, some mummies were destroyed, museums in Iraq were looted during the Coalition invasion, Joseph’s tomb in Israel has been attacked several times, a proposed high-speed rail line in England has archaeologists scrambling to find out what might be in its path.

And so on.

Also, conclusions are drawn from findings, and sometimes new findings generate new conclusions (sometimes new conclusions arrive all by themselves). The conclusions might not manage to accommodate all the available evidence. Like life, it’s kinda messy. So I don’t mind presenting conclusions, but I do want to emphasise that on which the conclusions are based (and that which the conclusions ignore).

So, a disorganised field to organise, a world to save (in the “archive” sense of the word, like Donna Noble in the Library). And hopefully make research easier for anyone who wants or needs to (I’m trying to aim the writing so it can be engaged by teens in school, and anyone older than that).

I’m not strictly limiting myself to archaeological sites, as the messiness rears its ugly head again: there’s a 12th-Century church I know of that’s still in active use, and there’s certainly many archaeological sites contemporary and much more recent, so while I intend to have an archaeological focus, it’s not a criteria I will rigidly adhere to.

So that’s something in the way of the underlying idea behind the project.

I spent much of today cleaning up the showcase entry on the site: I noticed surprisingly little spelling that needed cleaned up, but some bolding, italicising, and rather a lot of making links look not-dorky. It’ll take you a while to read it, but check out the entry on Bushmead Priory over there, to get the feel of what I’m going for.

Why Bushmead Priory, you may ask?

When I was looking for a starting point, I found a list of sites that would make a great base to build from. It was Wikipedia’s list of English Heritage properties. I went through the whole list, finding the co-ordinates on Google Maps (and occasionally Bing, when Google’s image wasn’t quite adequate). Then I started over, gathering the PastScape data. And a few months ago, when I decided I really needed to get a full-fledged post done, that was quite literally the top of the list.

After I got that entry all finished, I had a bit of a battle of wills getting the forum set up. I don’t want to start with too many sections on the thing until there’s a bit more of a demand, but I got some sections set up and described, and a couple of threads started. Such is the state of things, though, that I’m using the Admin account and another account that I’ve set up for myself, and I’ve had to use the Admin account to approve the posts that I have made with the other one (one more to go).

So there, we go, this actually feels like a start, now. To invert a line from a movie (the original line including the movie’s title), “we must go forward… to the past!”

The Best Laid Plans Of Mice

Well, it’s been rather a long time since I declared my intent to work on posts for my intended new site. When I declared that, my hope was to work towards a post a day (which would be a great idea). Today, I believe I have completed the first post.

Now, some days I’ve been able to put more effort in than others, and it would be selfish to not help kids with their schoolwork, or to not let my wife get on with her own project (I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve been entirely unselfish, however). Plus this blog takes time (good writing practice, though)….

Anyway. That first post was, I believe, as thorough as I could make it, without emailing a bunch of people for extra information, and probably having to pay through the nose for it, and without learning at least Latin, and probably at least one obscure form of English, and learning to read some peculiar (to my eyes) handwriting styles.

That being said, I found one source that had some footnotes, then when examining those footnotes I discovered some major inadequacies and had to go on a big search hunt, which yielded another source (of potential future value) with better (but not perfect) footnotes, went through a table of abbreviations to discover meanings, more searching for a stack of original documents, some of which were readily available and some much less so, and so on. And then the original source has abbreviated footnotes, with nowhere obvious to explain the abbreviations, making looking them up unfruitful.

It was fun, and I found out a lot (I like to think I’ve learned some things, too), and some of the work ought to take some of the load off of some future entries.

So yeah, an entry a day, definitely ambitious. An entry a week might be something to aim for, if they’re going to be that comprehensive. Just looking at what I had to start with, this entry didn’t look like it would be a lot of work. There are some that look like they will be a bit less, but then there’s some that look like they will be a lot more. It will be interesting to see how accurate such predictions turn out to be.

I started with a small portion of a very wide field, and I think this portion is, if not particularly organised, blessed with some structures that assist research. Branching out to other parts of the field seems like a long way off (though perhaps I should do some alternating, as some of those other portions seem more in need of the help), but I’m already trying to think about how those will work.

What I Need To Do To Turn My Planned Project Into A Reality

I’ve mentioned before about the site I want to make. I haven’t gone into much in the way of details about what it’s about. Intentionally so, not because I think you’ll steal my idea, but more because I hope the vagueness now, will make the unveiling more exciting.

Here’s basically the things that I need to do to get it going.

1. POSTS
Turn research into content. Lots of research done so far. Try and get to a post a day.
STATUS: Lousy

2. CONTINUE RESEARCH
Accumulate a bunch for making posts easier, keep ahead so you don’t run out.
STATUS: Pretty good on current list. Resources available to continue afterwards.

3. LOOK OF WEBSITE
As long as it’s easy to navigate, how it looks is less important: at the same time, don’t actually want it to look terrible.
Can be worked on after the site is up, but is also less likely to be worked on after the site is up than before.
STATUS: Poor. Think I have a handle on menus.

4. EXTRA CONTENT:
Have some ideas for podiobook-able things, which will also help extend brand. Located microphone, think taking laptop to garage, and recording under blanket, would work.
STATUS: still relatively concept.

5. PREMIUM CONTENT:
Conversion services: software cursorily tested. Results promising, with caveats. No negotiations entered into. More thorough testing required, may benefit from purchasing sample materials for conversion (possible). Conversion process needs tested, particularly master new format (have test document ready and software installed, not progressed far in the conversion efforts yet).
Translation services: Entirely theoretical.
Audiobooks with site/author/reader/(translator) only at the beginning and end, not at the beginning/end of Every File (unless the book’s really short and only one file).

6. OTHER REVENUE:
Advertising. Have some ideas of who to approach. (also see who approaches). Need established site to make it worth their while. Decide number of spots, perhaps decide on genres for these spots.
Membership. Discounts to sponsors, discount to stuff we sell. Discounts to other people. Make it worth more than cost. Also contingent on establishment.

7. OTHER THINGS TO IMPLEMENT:
Community: forum software. PHPBB probably. Making it look right, I don’t want to think about at the moment. I’ve at least played with the software, call it a STATUS of 7%.
Submissions: Anticipate needing to ask for photos. Integration may be the issue. STATUS: concept only.
Amend a plugin to customize images used. STATUS: Started. Back-burner now, needs lots of concentration.
Find a plugin to implement different-language versions of the site. STATUS: A thought.

PlayStations 3 and 4

Because of some of the trailers coming out of E3 (Final Fantasy VII Remake, LEGO Dimensions), and the possibly-coming-soon Final Fantasy XV, I started looking into the relative merits of the PS3 and the PS4.

Some background: I have played consoles for years (Atari 2600, NES, SNES, Master System, Genesis/Mega Drive, PlayStation, Dreamcast). I’m pretty sure the Atari has been in my family for longer than I have. My in-laws have one, too. I’m pretty sure also that my family of origin’s console was new. I have bought three consoles from the above list: PS1, Dreamcast and Mega Drive (possibly in that order), not a-one of them was new. (note to self: get Dreamcast working over here, and introduce kids to Chu Chu Rocket.)

From time to time we (mainly me and Oldest, but including the other two as well, even if the most we can expect from Youngest is chewing the controls) like to have a bash at some of the old games.

But sometimes it seems it would be nice to have a bash at some of the newer games, too.

Like, I have Final Fantasy I, II, and IV-IX on the PS1 (and III on the DS). Despite hearing that the later games in the series suffer a bit of a decline (well, I don’t know about the MMOs, but as they require a subscription I shall happily continue to ignore them), I still would like to give them a go.

I’m not sure I’d want to touch car racing games of the 8-bit era now, though I played quite a few. I play Gran Turismo 2 on the PS1 a bit with the kids. Comparing games like Out Run on the old machines, where, at best, turns and objects you might need to react to show up on screen at about the time you need to react to them, I notice on GT2 scenery being loaded just after it ought to be visible from line-of-sight, at some curve way ahead. GT5 and 6 on the PS3 have improvements on the graphics, of course, but they also support a 3D mode. Interestingly, GT7 on PS4 doesn’t seem to.

(I’ve spotted 3D projectors on Amazon for less than $500. Don’t know if they’re good projectors, but the possibility is rather interesting…)

Also, I’ve played some LEGO games on the DS (Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, Marvel), and while I could get them for 2-player action on the PC, a console might be easier.

Early models of PS3 are backwards-compatible to PS2 and PS1. PS1 is less important to me, as I have one, but there are a few PS2 titles I would be interested in. Some of them, though (Final Fantasy X and X-2) have PS3 and PS4 versions. And then some don’t.

The backwards-compatible versions are the 20GB, 40GB, 60GB, and some 80GB models. The hard drives can apparently be upgraded so you’re not tied to a specific size. 60GB seemed to be a safer bet than 80GB, so I’ve been keeping my eye on that. Compared to a 40GB the other day (both Used on Amazon), and they didn’t seem that different in price. Gotta watch out for which ones come with cables and controllers, but it looks like you should be up and running for $200 or less (inc. shipping, if you time it right). Can’t get those backwards-compatible models new.

PS4 has no backwards-compatibility. Some titles are available on both PS3 and PS4 (looking at the HD remaster box set of FFX and FFX-2 the other day, the PS4 version was rather more expensive – the pre-release Lego Dimensions Starter Set was the same price for either version). New PS4 costs about $400, Used (“Good” quality, inc shipping, cables and a controller) starts (as I write this) at $305, and going down the list the price rapidly increases.

For bang for the buck, and wider selection of what I want to play (though, to be honest, such playing would be rather occasional), PS3 would be my (sadly hypothetical) priority (the research has been fun, however). But some of these (as far as we know) PS4-only titles are rather enticing…