The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians. (Andrew Clarke and GH) These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

If you'd like to publish any interesting material about the history of East Anglia on the site, then please send an email to the Resident Historians at Andrew.Clarke@Foxearth.org.uk and we'll add it.

Family Historians have their own area on the site, so look there if your main interest is in tracing your family history.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wrestling with the technology

A while ago, we thought it would be an idea to release our first publication, Foxearth Brew, onto the website. This is part of our celebrations at the revival of brewing as a local industry now that The Nethergate Brewery has moved to the parish of Pentlow within walking distance of the site of Wards' Brewery. We have nearly sold out (there is the odd box here and there if you are quick!) and it seems unlikely in view of our publication schedule that we'd ever republish, so it seemed sensible to place it on the website for anyone likely to be doing research on Wards' Brewery.


The book was prepared in Wordstar, which does not convert well into HTML. (Microsoft's attempts have been extremely feeble in view of the importance of web publishing). How on earth does one deal with all the tables, footnotes, indexes and other paraphanalia?


Then along came Aurelia Reporter from Aurelia Systems. This appears to the system to be a printer driver, but it actually creates HTML which you can email, or upload to a website. It deals with long documents by paging them, allows 'anchor' indexing and deals with graphics with complete accuracy. It allows a perfect text and graphics HTML from any application that can print. It even allows the embedding of fonts, a notoriously tricky business. If I were Bill Gates I'd buy the company.


It aint perfect, but it is good enough for us and will allow us to extend our website


Foxearth Brew- the complete book

Whilst on the subject of technical solutions, I must also recommend Abby Finereader. This OCR software works magically, and is so far ahead of any other software on the market that one gasps at its skill. It is actually possible to convert a stack of documents into indexable text-based HTML documents in a batch. For a historian, it is a wonderful resource as one can OCR complex data and then use PC tools to search text. For a web publisher faced with complex designs, it is a godsend, able to OCR a page, and convert it straight into MS Word, HTML, Text or Excel formats. It was developed in Russia, I believe, and the rumour is that it was developed to convert the huge mass of typewritten KGB documents into digital text so that it can be indexed and studied for historical and forensic reasons. Certainly, the software is very good at dealing with typewritten documents.

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