Progress Report: Major pieces coming together

The data files for the various Directories lookups are finally completed - ugh, that took longer than expected. Luckily I have figured out a workflow in Excel which has saved me from some of the disasters I've managed in the past when some misplaced "copy and paste" action or erratic finger twitch would accidentally undo several hours of work. Here's how it works:

Do something significant in Excel, then save the file under a new name. Repeat until either the job is finished or your head crashes into the keyboard. When you get done, you will have a slew of files like companies.xls, companies_1.xls, companies_2.xls and so on, most of which can then be deleted if you are REALLY sure you are done with that iteration.

Next will be to check if the online payment configuration has magically started to work, or if the Dream Team as done anything with it. Then, to finally set up the online store and online meeting registration.

Also next will be to fix all the various missing content pieces and consequently keep old Bozo the Error Page clown from popping up on your screen all the time.

Also next (criminy, this a lot of "nexts") is to get some documentation written for using the various functions here, so the vast majority of our visitors will no longer log in, scratch their heads, and go away.

Then of course there is the mountain of content to continue to upload, including many more videos. That section will not really be useful until there is a critical mass of different topics (and eras) so most visitors here will find at least a few things that interest them.

Speaking of interest, I hope all you bookworm types spend some time browsing the Reading Room. Right now it is still a little hamstrung by the critical mass issue referenced above, but it is beginning to become something pretty cool, especially for those into industry history or, really, American history.

More than that, though, the Reading Room is beginning to reveal some fascinating stuff because of the topical tag feature. Click on the modern cemetery tag, for instance, and you begin to get a sense of the vision that has in some sense driven this organization for 120 years. And it's not just about cemeteries, but the industry as a whole. Obviously Hubert Eaton's address at the 1929 convention is near the top of the list for historical significance, but there is more than that if you browse the pieces going back to 1893. Much more is coming - loading and tagging those are also a bit time-consuming but I am a history buff so it's a labor of love ... well, technically it's a labor of caffeine and cabernet and love. But mostly love.

Sorry for the lateness in getting any good documentation for what to actually do at this Web site. I assure you it is, like everything else, coming very soon.


judyfaaberg's picture

And plenty of it. If the project hasn't already driven you to drink, it must at least have driven you to the brink.

The historical stuff is truly fascinating reading. What's the method for uploading it all? Do you have a really sophisticated scanner or??

Judy Faaberg, DP, CCP

It actually works through our copier (sort of a new copier but not particularly fancy). We do a story at a time, and though try to use as much as we can, if it is one that is hard to read already we mark it and hold off till later (when we have more time to make manual changes)

The copier scans and creates a PDF file of each page which it automatically emails to a directory on our network.

Then, the trick is this wiz bang PDF-reading software called eCopy Desktop that costs about 550 bucks for a six user license. It converts the PDF to plain text and does a pretty astoundingly good job. There are still artifacts to clean up, sometimes more sometimes less, sometimes formatting issues such as columns to get rid of, advertisements. But it does all this stuff basically with the click of a few buttons. Really a killer program. It even has a handy graphic scanning utility so you can just "select" your photos, give each a name (we use a numeric code which matches the article) and it will save them to jpg. If you are thinking about ever doing this I think it's the best tool available.

We tried the exact project about 7 years ago with then-available OCR software and the amount of fix-it work required after scanning was about similar to just sitting down and re-typing all the words in each article. Left me raging like Lear on the heath so we eventually dropped the project with a thud.

As you know searchable text is exponentially more useful (and portable) than PDF files so this technology was quite the consciousness-expander for us.

Julie A. Burn's picture


Love the reading room! The historical information is very interesting. I'm viewing all the cremation articles/presentations and plan on using some of it in upcoming presentations/seminars.