Tag Archives: IT

Importing documents and structure from Scrivener to MaxQDA

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Here’s my triumph of the day: getting Scrivener to export about 400 separate documents into a single file that you can then import into MaxQDA with a code that will then separate them out again into individual documents in MaxQDA.  If you’re wondering why, it’s because the bulk of my data and a lot of memos and notes were entered in Scrivener, but I want to export it into MaxQDA to analyse it. Time taken? About 10 minutes to figure it out, 10 seconds to execute it.

To do such an import in MaxQDA, you need to prefix every title or separate section with #TEXT, so that the resulting document has #TEXTYourTitleHere before each section. When you import that document, MaxQDA creates a separate document at every point where it reads #TEXT, adding a title of its own if you haven’t specified one.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. In the Scrivener compile dialog, select the folder(s) that contain(s) the documents and subdocuments (if any) you want to send to MaxQDA.
  2. Use the “Custom” compile format, so that you can tweak the output
  3. In the compile dialog, select the formatting box, and make sure that the “title” box is checked against the level where the documents are that you want to see as separate documents in MaxQDA. When you click on the different levels, the corresponding documents in the binder are highlighted, so you can see exactly which level you need.  ( I found that the titles of the subdocuments I wanted to include (level 2+) weren’t included in the compile by default, so I had to manually check the box) scrivener-formatting
  4. Click on the “Section Layout” button underneath the levels
  5. In the dialog box that appears (Title Prefix and Suffix) Add the word #TEXT – ensuring that you don’t put a space after the word #TEXT prefix
  6. Now run the compile
  7. You will now have one big file that contains all your Scrivener subdocuments, with #TEXT appended to each title.
  8. Now import the compile file into  MaxQDA using the “Import structured document (Preprocessor)” option. importMax
  9. Sit back and watch all your Scrivener document structure replicate itself in MaxQDA.

IT tip: how to stop Guardian links from displaying 404 in Facebook posts

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guardian

I can’t remember when this started, but for a while now, if you paste a link into Facebook from the Guardian, you get the 404 page above as a thumbnail. If you click on the link, it does go to the page you wanted to link to, but who in their right mind would want to click on a 404 error?

To force the Guardian links to behave, all you have to do is to add a trailing slash (/) on to the URL. So if your link looks like this:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/may/16/sophie-heawood-fallen-out-of-love-with-music

add a / on to the end so it looks like this:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/may/16/sophie-heawood-fallen-out-of-love-with-music/

Do it before you copy and paste the link rather than adding it when you write the post, because most of the time, Facebook will already grab the 404 page and grab it before you’ve had a chance to edit. So add the slash in the address bar, then copy it, then paste it.

Do that, and that nasty 404 page will magically turn into this (for the URL above)

guardian-true

By the way, it’s a great article, so do click on the link and read it, as well as taking the tip.

Facebook echo and rediscovering privacy

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The Charles Bridge. Log-jammed because of people photographing their own passage across it

The Charles Bridge. Log-jammed because of people photographing their own passage across it

Don’t get me wrong: I love Facebook, and I am one of its most shallow users. I’ll post anything – videos and pictures of cats (a lot), pictures of things I’m about to eat, reposts from The PokeI love seeing other friends’ pictures of their day. The more trivial, the better, because it’s the trivia that colours and shades the detail of friendship.  But knowing how much I loved it made it easy to decide to have a break from it (see earlier post).

It wasn’t difficult to stop reading Facebook, in fact, it was rather like not having to scratch an itch anymore, but the impulse to post was an itch that wouldn’t go away.  Within minutes, I realised that using social media had developed a tic in my brain I call “Facebook echo” – an internal voice that samples your experience in slices and presents it back to you as a status update before you’ve had a chance to take the experience in as a whole – like hearing the reverb before you hear the sound.  Walking down a street, being with friends, eating in a restaurant, preparing a meal, reading the news, it didn’t matter where I was or what I was doing, I’d find events echoing back to me as potential Facebook or Twitter posts, whether I would actually have posted them or not. Remember Fred Elliott in Coronation Street, who said everything twice, I say, who said everything twice? A bit like that.

Facebook echo digitises what was once an analogue experience – though the habit is so well-formed in my brain now, that I can hardly remember what it was like to live without running a rolling news service at the same time. Walking across the Charles Bridge in Prague (as I was when I started thinking about this) is no longer “a walk” but a series of photo opportunities that must be immediately captioned. The prospective status update makes you decide which bit of your experience to sample. Every glance, every thought and impression is processed, edited, captioned, categorized (humour, morals, social conscience, pet-hates, self-promotion, information, and so on).

I’m not taking the moral high-ground here: for one thing, I was thinking all this only because I was crossing the Charles Bridge to meet someone that I hadn’t seen for some years, but who I’d stayed in touch with on Facebook. By that time I’d decided not to use Facebook for a week, but my journey across the bridge was slowed down by people starring in their own celebrity biopics of themselves in Prague. Even two weeks on, the urge to turn everything into a status update or a tweet is still there, but without the means of scratching the itch, it wears off, as the attraction of smoking did after I gave up.

What I love is the return to privacy – to having a life that no longer has to be lived with your skin inside out. Andy Warhol’s predictions were not as accurate as people say, I think: we are not all famous for 15 minutes, we’re all starring in our own show 24 hours a day. If you’re not photographing yourself without make-up, someone else will be, as you become the unwitting backdrop for their selfie or holiday snap. Apparently 1 in 3 people would let their employer have access to their Facebook account in return for job security. If there was ever a reason to not have a Facebook account at all, this is it.  For my taste, the wresting of privacy from an individual is wrong, whether it’s Facebook, your employer, or  the Stasi/KGB who do it. When you’ve got a choice, to opt in seems crazy, but I think we are fast forgetting what privacy once meant, so there appears to be no choice to make.

PS: I did think later on, if I care so much about privacy, why am I making this post public? I have no idea.

How to sync voice memos from your iPhone

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The Voice Memos app on the iPhone is one of its most useful features, but for maybe a year, it’s proved impossible to get voice recordings from my iPhone and onto my Mac so that I can do something with them.  I’m not the only one – the web is crammed with forums documenting the same problem, with all kinds of baroque fixes and suggestions, most of which I’ve tried without success, or with only temporary success until the next OS or iTunes update. That  such a basic and important feature of the iPhone/iTunes has been left to rot by Apple is appalling.

The quick and reliable (and free) fix for me has been iExplorer (formerly iPhone Explorer). It turns your phone into a drive so you can view the contents and drag and drop stuff from it to your computer.  If like me you’ve got hours of crucial interview data on a phone, iExplorer’s a life saver. Here’s how:

1. Download and install iExplorer

2. Plug in your phone

3. An icon representing your phone will appear in the iExplorer window

4. Click on this to collapse the folders inside the phone

5. Keep going till you get to Media>Recordings>Sync

6. There are all your voice memos, filenames in yyyy/mm/dd format

7. Either drag and drop the files you want, or copy and paste them across to whereever you want them

 

Update on 7th August 2012 : Suddenly today, iTunes decided to download 35 voice memos going back months (I’d already downloaded them with iExplorer).   In the post above I never said how to sync voice memos using iTunes because it didn’t work consistently. If you want to know, just in case it’s working again now, this is how:

  • in your iPhone sync preferences in iTunes, make sure that ‘include voice memos’ is ticked under ‘Music’
  • when you next plug your phone into our computer, the voice memos should be downloaded to a playlist called ‘Voice Memos’ in your library

I still prefer the iExplorer method myself, because it gives me greater control over what I’m doing, and at least I know it’s done it.

 

Happy National Libraries Day – especially to Tooting Library and the IOE

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I’m no Luddite. I was an early-adopter of computers and the internet. I earn about 25% of my salary from playing the piano, and 75% from being a pretty expert user of all kinds of software. I use the internet all the time for research, and I’d be lost without my computer and my iPhone.  The world is full of incredible opportunities now that were not available to me when I was an undergraduate or at school. That’s wonderful, and I use those opportunities all the time.

But not a week passes when I am not even more blissed out by libraries and what they have to offer.  This last few weeks I’ve been doing an ‘Info and Lit’ course at the IoE, and I’ve learned so much from our tutor Nazlin Bhimani in those sessions that I never got from sitting for hours in front of a screen. Through really good guidance and teaching, I’ve learned to make better use of the resources that I’ve already had available to me for years, and all because when you’ve got a real human in front of you, you learn how to use stuff, how to evaluate, what to ignore and avoid.

I’d live in the IOE library if I could, but I equally love my local library in Tooting, not least because it’s only 5 minutes away. I go there when I need to concentrate, somewhere quiet but where other people are working so you feel motivated to do the same. The staff are amazingly helpful – I’ve seen so many instances where they’ll help someone out with using the internet, teaching them how to search, for example, and nothing is too much trouble.  The study room has always been packed (but spacious) when I’ve been there.  They have lots of new books, a range of newspapers.

My favourite library moment was on Thursday this week. I’d been scrolling through the Musicology Must-reads over at the Taruskin challenge blog, and noticed Thomas Clifton’s Music as Heard, a book advocating a phenomenological approach to musical experience. As this is right up my particular research street, I decided to hunt it out. Could I find a copy anywhere? Not on Amazon,  not in the IoE library, and Abe Books were £90+ for the only two remaining copies. So I took my tutor’s advice, and searched the Senate House catalogue. And sure enough, there it was. When you know how hard-to-get a book is, the moment when you hold it in your hands is one of awe and excitement. And it’s a fabulous book.

Ironically, today was the day that I finally got a Kindle to see if would be any use to my parents. It’s not. As with most gadgets, they didn’t think about the elderly or people with poor motor skills.  I also thought I might be converted if I actually had one. I’m not. I hate it with a passion, and I hate the way that Amazon are helping people to forget what libraries do, and that you could go to a local charity shop and buy a paperback for 50p, and then give that to someone else.

But worst of all, the Kindle doesn’t supply you with the computer, the power, the wifi, the money, the quiet, the space, the chair, the desk, the teacher, the other like minded readers to sit and enjoy the space with. This is why Sadiq Khan was so right when he wrote this to Edward Lister at Wandsworth Council last year:

Popularity and utility cannot only be measured by the number of books issued in any given year – there is a wider social benefit to a community that comes from the local provision of good IT facilities, or a quiet place for children to do homework. (Sadiq Khan)

If you don’t believe that, go to your local library and have a look. Long live libraries.

Give yourself a break from multi-tasking

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Just try it. Give this podcast from Headspace about the healthy use of technology 15 minutes of your time. Pause to reflect on the way you use technology, and the extent to which switching between one window and another, between email and document, text message and Facebook, music and video, might be knocking up toxic cerebral froth.

You’ll know from my anti-multi-tasking rants that I don’t have a lot of time for the idea that ‘multi-tasking’ is a good thing. Although this podcast doesn’t use the term ‘multi-tasking’, it does refer to the documented negative effects of overstimulating your brain by constant task-switching on digital technology. It’s an important message, because it’s not just kids that try to do ten things at once with technology, it’s all of us who have the means. We need, I believe, to stop buying into the idea that we have endless processing power. I might just sign up to Headspace and give myself a break.

IT tips #25: Use a notebook for the big stuff in life

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Use  conventional tools if they’re better suited to the job at hand. Notebooks (real notebooks, not the electronic kind) are cheap, robust, durable, don’t need electricity, don’t require any special skills, offer  fast random access, and boot up immediately.  They are less distracting in a hundred ways than a computer, and much quicker to use. They’re light and portable, and can be tilted, folded, bent, torn, listened to, stroked and smelled.

A notebook hides nothing away in files, folders and applications. If it’s in there, you’ll find it. Handwritten notes bear the indelible marks of the day when you made them – the colour, weight and angle of the pen, the speed of your writing, minute irregularities of line and shape. A coffee or red wine stain may remind  you  where you were when you made it. These things are erased or never inscribed by a computer.

Many brilliant people I have met from fields as diverse as management, retail, choreography, design, writing, academia and  computer programming use notebooks for  the big stuff – planning, thinking, sketching, dealing with people. By contrast, I’ve watched hours of working life go by where technology has provided the appearance of serious activity but achieved nothing.

My personal favourites, for design and paper quality, are the B5 notebooks from Muji that come in packs of 5 for £4. What’s yours?