Sunday, March 30, 2008

Free Census & Global Warning

Of course, there is no connection between Free Census and Global Warning. As far as I know. And assuming that the globe is getting warmer. This is a picture of Ella taken a few weeks ago in Ottawa, where they have had more snow this winter than they have had since 1970/1. Ella is wondering how she can visit her grandmother - my sister.

Here is the current state of the 1871 & 1881 Cornish projects. As you can see, we are within striking distance of finishing. Two pieces are with transcribers but all the rest are being checked. If every checker finished tomorrow, we could be home and free by the end of the week. Well - not quite, but you know what I mean I am sure.


2234 Callington St Ive being checked by Maxine Cadzow
2236 Liskeard Menheniot being checked by Jeff Beaton
2240 Liskeard St Neot being checked by Donna Hazledon
2254 Padstow Little Petherick being checked by Pam Pinkerton
2289 Kea Feock being transcribed by Caroline Buckland
2296 Falmouth St Gluvias being checked by Barbara Pullar
2316 Redruth being checked by Judy Waddell
2324 Camborne. Being checked by Althea Johnson
2331 Uny Lelant Ludgvan being transcribed by Celia Wikert


2274 Altarnun being checked by Bernie Currie
2275 Nth Petherwin being checked by George Bishop
2281 St Germans being checked by John Ball
2299 Fowey being checked by Jan Lewis
2304 Mevagissey being checked by Tony Harris
2308 St Agnes being checked by Geoff Westlake
2328 Gwennap being checked by Tony Bennett
2329 Gwennap being checked by Valeri Pain
2331 Redruth Being checked by Di Thompson
2332 Redruth being checked by Marion Paul
2333 Redruth being checked by Malcolm Rule
2335 Camborne being checked by Mike Beck
2337 Phillack being checked by John Smith
2340 Uny Lelant being checked by Margaret Moxon
2341 St Ives being checked by Julia Mays
2342 St Ives being checked by Peter Veryan
2343 St Ives being checked by Roda Jelbert
2351 St Buryan being checked by Valerie Pettifer
2352 Scillies to be checked by Valeri Pettifer

Monday, March 10, 2008

How I forgot to do any census returns

"I was recently diagnosed with AAADD - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. This is how it manifests itself:

I decide to water my plants in the front garden. As I go to turn on the hose I look over at my car and decide it needs washing. I go to get the car keys from the entrance and then notice the delivered mail on the entrance table. I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car. I put my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the bin under the table, and notice that the bin is full. So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the rubbish first. But then I think, I can run down to the post-box when I take out the rubbish, I may as well pay the bills first. I take my cheque book off the table, and see that there is only 1 cheque left. My other cheque book is in the computer desk, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of Coke I'd been drinking. I'm going to look for my other cheque book, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. The Coke is getting warm so I decide to put it in the fridge to keep it cold. As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the window ledge catches my eye--they need water. I put the Coke on the window ledge and discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning. I decide I’d better put them back on my computer desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers. I put the glasses back down on the window ledge, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote. I must have left it on the kitchen table. I realize that tonight when I go to watch TV, I'll be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the living room where it belongs, but first I'll 
water the flowers. I pour some water in the flowers, but some spills on the floor. So, I set the remote back on the table, get a towel and wipe up the spill. Then I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do. At the end of the day: The flower tubs aren't watered; The car isn't washed; The bills aren't paid; There is a warm can of Coke sitting on the window ledge; The flowers in the vase don't have enough water; There is still only 1 cheque in my cheque book; I can't find the remote; I can't find my glasses; I have absolutely NO idea what I did with the car keys. Then, when I try to work out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all damn day, and I'm really tired. I realise this is a serious problem and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail. Do me a favour. Forward this message to everyone I know, because I don't remember who the hell I've sent it to."

Thursday, March 06, 2008


In the original plan, Validation was the third and final stage. However, it is in fact the penultimate stage and is followed by post-validation. This note covers both.

When a corrected zip arrives back, I load it into Valdrev, and run it against the images. Unlike checking, I do not have to view every line, but only those on which Valdrev stops.

This is the Valdrev screen. Any field that is changed by the checker turns red. Checkers do NOT, therefore, need to leave me a note or a flag, just to say they have changed something.

Valdrev stops for:

1. Alerts, either inserted by the checker, or inserted by the transcriber and not resolved by the checker.

2. Records that have notes left by the transcriber or the checker, but not those contained in the transcriber’s Mynotes file. I do not see those, although Valdrev does stop.

3. County or place of birth names that do not exist as far as the geographical database GENIE is concerned.

From this you can see that if the transcriber leaves lots of notes, I get lots of stops. During validation I edit the notes left by transcribers. Usually, I delete them, but sometimes I retain them, edit them or add to them or insert new ones – as the fancy takes me! If Chapman codes for the Irish or Scottish counties have not been used, I get stops on all those. In the original plan, it was thought that the validation process would be pretty quick, with stops every hundred or so records. Like many things, this didn’t work out and stops are only too frequent.

The main problem is that the geographical database GENIE is limited in size and it doesn’t hold many perfectly good place names. In general, I pass all place names that are “as is”. I do not avail myself of the validater’s option to put in the modern or corrected names. As I go along, I create a supplementary list of place names, ones that I am happy about that are not on the database. This reduces the number of stops I get

At the end of this process, I pack for uploading; in theory, this output file could be uploaded. But in practice, we know that there are a lot of errors still in the file, invisible during validation. The file is, therefore, loaded into FCTools. This is a diagnostic tool that identifies errors and gives warnings of possible problems.

FCTools produces a list of errors and a spreadsheet. As well as making the corrections indicated by FCTools, the opportunity its taken to “eyeball” the spreadsheet. It is surprising how many minor errors jump out and hit you in the eye! Once it as good as it can be, two files are produced. The validation file is uploaded to the Online DataBase (OLDB) and to the Mormon’s Great Granite Cave in Utah. The html file is sent to our web site.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Really - it's quite easy!

The task we have set ourselves is really quite simple. We just have to transcribe as accurately as we can the words of the Enumerator.

Of course, it is all made more complicated by the requirements of Free Census, and indeed, by those of the author of this blog.

Still, in the end, it is pretty simple. Transcribe the words of the Enumerator, warts and all, into the spreadsheet. If he misspells Scholar, then so do you. If he has a 19-year old Scholar, then you will have to input (Scholar), but his words are intact.

I find that the biggest aid I have is Google (or the search engine of your choice). If the Enumerator has written down a place name unknown to the Free Census software, or me, I usually type it into Google. Of course, knowing the correct version doesn’t mean that I don’t type in the Enumerator’s version. But just knowing that there is a “real” place spelt somewhat differently is an aid to reading the words on the page.

I also use Google for personal names and occupations. Google will search our online texts; in fact we often figure in the first ten hits it reports. So, if we have already transcribed a person, or an occupation, or a place, then it will come up. There are, of course, other aids. The IGI is online for free. You can confine your search to the parish you are working on. If you are working on a Cornish piece, you can use the COCP search engine. You can browse our online texts, the enumerators often used the same route for each census, and English and Cornish place names have remained the same for centuries.

It also helps if you read what you are writing. The numbers of times I find miss-transcriptions, when the transcriber or checker has got it correct only a page or so earlier.

Finally, you have one aid I don’t have. ME! I am quite happy for people to write to me and I will take a look at the image for you and give a second opinion. I can also download an image from Ancestry and email it to you. We also have an instant messaging system up and running. Instructions on how to access that can be given and are also on this blog. You might get an answer in minutes using either of these methods. I would rather correct things as you do them than have to do them in the final stages.

The picture at at the top was sent in by a volunteer living in Tasmania - it illustrates that she has other interests than my wretched census returns!!!!