Tag Archives: IT

Importing documents and structure from Scrivener to MaxQDA

Share

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

Share

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

Share
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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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?

 

 

 

 

IT tips #24: How to make time-saving templates in Word

Share

A real template in Word is a thing of beauty and magic that can be used to save you a lot of time and make your computer do what it does best:  quickly and painlessly automate repetitive tasks.  I say real templates, because a lot of people use the word ‘template’ to mean nothing more than a Word document that just provides an example of what a document should look like. A real template ends in the file extension .dot, and when you click on it, will automatically create a new blank document based on the template.  so if someone says ‘I’m attaching a template’ and the file ends in .doc, it’s not a template. Here’s how to do it properly:

  1. Think of a document type that has that you use a lot, like a letter or invoice
  2. Start a new document in Word.
  3. Spend time creating all the fancy elements that are particular to you such as
    – Your name and address and other contact details
    – An automated field for today’s date (see instructions below)
    – Page numbers, footers, headers
    – A scan of your signature, with your name and title underneath it
    – Bank details (if it’s an invoice)
  4.  Now go to the file menu, and select ‘Save As’
  5. From the dialog box that appears, look down to the ‘Format’ field, and change the Format to one of the Template (.dot) options.  Choose Word 97-2004 Template if you’re sending it to someone else (just to be safe), Word Template (.dotx) if it’s only you that’s going to be using it.
  6. Give the template a memorable and useful name, and press OK to save the document (which is now not strictly a document anymore, but a template)

To use the template (these instructions are for Word for Mac 2008 – in Word for Windows, you go to File>New and then select ‘from template’ ).

1. Go to the File>Project Gallery

2. From the menu that appears, select ‘My Templates’ and the template you created will be there.

3. Click on the template. A new blank document will be created with all the features that you specified. If you inserted an automatic date field, today’s date will be inserted (see instructions below).

4. Save this new document as something meaningful on your computer.

NOTES

How to insert the date automatically every time you create a new document based on a template

1. Go to the Insert menu, and select Insert>Field 

2. Select ‘Date and Time’ and use the ‘Create Date’ option

3. Press’ Options’ and select the format that the date should have, and remember to press ‘Add to field’ and ‘OK’ afterwards

  • Templates can be very complex things: for example, I’ve got one that I use for creating units in module study guides that have to have a cover page with the company logo on, page numbering, particular heading and text styles, and so on. Clicking on ‘Template’ creates a whole new document with a cover page including all the graphics.
  • Used in conjunction with forms (see earlier post on forms), templates can be doubly powerful: you could for example create an invoice template with form  fields for all the variable data like the name of the job and the unit price and so on.
  • Another way to use templates is to drag a shortcut to the template to your desktop. That way, you click on the template shortcut and kerplang! Word starts up automatically with a shiny new document ready for you to type into. To do this, you need to know where the template it stored (see below).
  • If you need to edit the template, you need to know where templates are stored on your computer. Once you know, you then select File>Open and locate the template in question to edit it
  • To find out where your computer stores templates, on a Mac go to Preferences pane in Word and select File locations. (it’s under Tools>Options on a PC) Make a note of where the  ‘templates’ are stored. You can press ‘modify’ to put them somewhere else. Frankly, I wouldn’t though. 

 

 

 

IT tips #23: How to hide your Facebook posts from particular people

Share

Sometimes you want to share something on Facebook that you know might offend a person in your network because of their particular views or life circumstances. You can chose to hide your posts from that person or several people at once. You can do it before you post something, or retrospectively:

1. At the end of your post, click on the ‘Friends’ sign, and select ‘custom’

2. Underneath ‘Hide this from’ start typing the name of the person that you want to hide the post from. Their name will appear – select it.

From now on, anything you post will be hidden from this person or list of people (if you added more than one) until you revoke it, but they will not know that you’ve done it.

 

 

IT tips #22: In MS Word, how to put a landscape page into a portrait document

Share

NB: Please read the 26/1/2016 update at the end of this page before you try the method below!

This is the problem: you need to insert a large table in landscape format into a document that is portrait the rest of the time. You don’t want to make the whole document landscape for the sake of one page, so you need a way of putting one landscape page into a portrait document. This is how you do it. Although the instructions here are for Word for Mac 2008, the over-riding principle is the same in any version of Word – create a section break, then apply the ‘landscape’ instruction to that section only.

Instructions for putting one landscape page into a portrait document in Word

1.  At the point where you want to create the landscape page, go to Insert>Break>Section Break (Next page)

Putting a landscape page into a portrait document in Word: use a Section Break

The Section Break menu

2. Now go to File>Page setup and change the page orientation to landscape, and if you’re using a Mac, after you’ve done that, change the settings to ‘Microsoft Word’ as shown below.

Putting a landscape page into a portrait document: the Page Setup menu in Mac OS

3.  From the menu that appears, select the option to apply the changes to ‘this section’ 
Putting a landscape page into a portrait document: use "This Section" when prompted in the page setup

4. Press OK. You will now have a landscape page at the point where you made the section break

5. Make your table or whatever it is on this page.

6. When you get to the bottom of the landscape page, repeat steps 1-4 above but change the orientation back to portrait and apply it to ‘this section’. 
NOTES
  • If  you know that this is going to be the only landscape page in the whole document, you can select ‘from this point forward’ when you change the orientation back to portrait in (6) above
  • Even though they’re invisible in print-layout view, Section Breaks can be deleted. If you’re not careful, you can backspace over the section break and put your landscape page back into portrait, or vice versa. If this happens, scream and press ‘Undo’ (CTRL+Z or ⌘Z)
  • To avoid deleting section breaks accidentally, put the document temporarily in to outline view (View>Outline). This will allow you to see where the section breaks are. Once you’ve finished, go back to View>Print layout)

Update on 26th January 2016

A recent visitor to this page has pointed out that when she tries to print the resulting document, the page immediately after the landscape page has its margins corrupted, and is shifted 2.5 inches to the right, and bleeds off the page. I’ve checked this and looked on a number of forums, and sadly, it seems that this may be an intractable problem with Word and page orientation changes.  To be honest, I don’t know what the problem is, and I have no idea whether it’s all versions of Word, all tables, all documents or whatever, but be warned.

In this particular case, the table had been created with tab stops rather than a table grid, which meant there was a nice workaround. If you have tabulated data (rather than a “table”) you can try this:

  1. Select the “table”  (scare quotes are vital here: I mean  “tabulated text” not a “table” in the sense of a grid with data in it)
  2. Click on the Insert menu, and select “text Box” – this will put a text box around the selected text
  3. Click on the + handle on the top LH corner of the resulting text box
  4. Click on the “layout tab” (see below)layout grid
  5. Select “Text Direction” and choose “Rotate all text 270º (or 90º if you prefer)
  6. The text will rotate (rather than the page) – this means that the page numbers will stay in the same position (one of the unfortunate hazards of the other method, is that the page numbers end up relative to the new page orientation – i.e. in the wrong place. It is then a real pain to put them in the right place using text boxes etc.
  7. I guess if you were really keen, you could create a table with the page in portrait mode, but with columns and rows how you’d like them to be when you type in text at 90 or 270 degrees (i.e. long rows, and narrow columns). I don’t like the sound of that, but in theory, it could work if you can (ha ha) get your head round it.
  8. If you have a better way of dealing with this let me know.

Warning 

Be aware that you can’t flip a Word table around like this: it only changes the direction of the text, not the table grid. I’m thinking that the only real workaround if you have a complex table that has to have a grid, and can’t be done with tabs alone, is to export the table as a graphic, and then import the graphic and rotate it into the portrait page as required.