Canons to the left of me, Canons to the right …!

Screenshot of Adobe Acrobat 7 Professional
I don’t think I ever want to see this screenshot ever again!

I’ve now lost track of how many hours I’ve been bookmarking this flippin’ PDF of the Code of Canons (see yesterday’s blog for details), but it must be at least 24 hours.

I’m now losing the will to live!

UPDATE @ 22:55
I finished the Canons about 3 hours ago. Hoorah! I’ve sent the file to a couple of friends for testing, to make sure it looks and works ok. I just have the Digest to do now. So I’m only about 2/3 of the way there.

Bikes for asthmatics?

Sign spotted at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh

This afternoon Jane and I had an appointment at the Human Genetics Department at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh. Now that we’re on the IVF waiting list, and given that I have a kidney condition called Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD), which has a 50% chance of being passed on to my children, we were keen to discuss the condition with a geneticist who would be able to explain the condition and any ways that they could help prevent the condition being passed on.

It was lovely meeting, with a lovely doctor, but the upshot is that there really is nothing they can do. There are procedures that can be done to screen IVF embryos for the presence of the genes that cause ADPCD, but the procedure is not available on the NHS, and isn’t usually used for this trifling condition! It was a very useful meeting to learn the facts and have a better understanding of the risks that we run of passing it on by having children.

On our walk back to the car we passed a bike shed (photo above) that had a sign that read:

Reserved for
emergency asthma
patients only

Hmm… emergency bikes for asthma patients?! How much did I laugh? It was only as I was taking the photograph that I noticed the writing on the ground in front of the bike shed:

Emergency Asthma Vehicle

Now, THAT makes a lot more sense than providing asthmatics with bikes to get to the Emergency Department in a hurry.

We need more user-friendly backup options

Don’t try this at home: the interior of a hard disk drive.

An interesting article on The Register a few days ago about Dell‘s plans in the US to offer customers “the option of adding an automatic back-up system to their new PC when they buy one of three models from its Dimension range.”

The article goes on to explain that

for an extra $99 it will install a second, 80GB hard drive in new Dimension E310, E510 and XPS 400 models. The drive will be configured to continuously back up the main drive, protecting personal data against the dreaded hard drive crash.

I presume that this is simply a RAID 1 setup, which is something that more and more modern PCs are capable of — mine is, for example and it’s a couple of years old — although Dell have called this “DataSafe”.

RAID 1 is an arrangement where two hard disks are set up to save exactly the same data on both drives; one is a mirror of the other. The obviousl advantage there is that should one drive fail or get corrupted then (hopefully) all your data will be safely stored on the mirrored drive.

I find it quite incredible that it has taken an OEM computer company up until now to realise that people’s data is so often so important to them that some kind of simple, user-friendly backup method should be an essential part of a new setup, particularly when more and more people are having to use PCs, many (most?) of whom don’t know too much about them.

A lot of new PCs come with ‘restore’ partitions, that is a separated area of the hard drive that contains data to completely restore the main hard drive (C:) to the state that it was in when it was delivered to your door. But the problem with this is that it will also wipe all your personal data.

A lot of new PCs come with this ‘restore’ partitions instead of a genuine Windows XP CD-ROM, which can also lead to other problems, like when you’re trying to install some piece of hardware that requires a few files from the XP installation CD. I was delighted when my current PC arrived from NetHighStreet with a Windows XP Professional CD.

There are more and more people using PCs nowadays. Many of whom haven’t the faintest clue about how their PC is setup (which is fair enough), what all the buttons do, and why certain features are arranged the way they are. All they want to do is switch it on, check their email, write their documents, watch a DVD or two, and maybe play some games. It can’t be that difficult to design a user-friendly backup system now … can it?!

Lunch at The Hawes Inn

Photograph of the Forth Bridge passing over the Hawes Inn at South Queensferry. Photograph taken with my Nokia 5140i phone camera.

Lunch today was a leisurely affair in the company of my dear friend Dave Gibbs at the highly-recommended Hawes Inn in South Queensferry.

Remarkably, today was the most quiet I’ve ever experienced the Hawes Inn for a meal. Usually the place is heaving and you have to wait half-an-hour for a table to become free. We had one room entirely to ourselves. It was really quite pleasant, sitting at a window table watching (and hearing) trains crossing the Forth Bridge above us, and the RNLI crew washing their lifeboat across the street.

S1Play has this to say about The Hawes Inn:

Not only was the inn the site of a meal between Lovel and Old Buch at the start of Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Antiquary, it also provided the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped. Hotel guests can stay in Stevenson’s Room, which looks out across the River Forth, and even read Victorian graffiti.

Drinkers downstairs can enjoy a traditional pub decorated with a ship’s bell, miniature ships’ wheels and an old timetable from when a ferry crossed the Forth. But the bar is most proud of its literary connections. Not only do Stevenson quotes adorn the wall – visitors can eat in the Stevenson Restaurant, where, hopefully, they will be able to raise a more hearty appetite than that of the consumptive writer.

The Hawes isn’t just a tourist trap – there are locals aplenty too. So grab a pint and look across the Forth. Who knows what inspiration may strike you.

I once saw SNP leader Alex Salmond having a meal there. That was quite exciting.

The links between Acrobat 7 and Canon Law

Screenshot of adding bookmark links in Acrobat 7 Professional
Screenshot of adding bookmark links in Acrobat 7 Professional. And yes, it really is as exciting a job as it sounds.

This evening I are been mostly … adding bookmarks to a PDF document in Acrobat 7 Professional. If not an exciting task it is certainly a user-friendly one.

As part of the development of the Scottish Episcopal Church website (www.scotland.anglican.org) I’ve been asked to add the Code of Canons; that is, the book of the laws of the Church.

The SEC Code of Canons is split into two main sections: the Canons, and the Digest of Resolutions. As it says in the introduction to the Digest:

The legal framework of the Scottish Episcopal Church is set out in the Code of Canons…

Canon 52 … authorises the Synod to pass resolutions inter alia, to provide for the implementation of the Canons, for the regulation of the Synod’s own procedure and for the regulation of all matters of property, finance and general administration throughout the Church.

I’m glad I read that, because I’ve never really understood what the Digest of Resolutions was! Anyway, that’s what they are, and there are two main sections. So when I asked for these to be sent to me in PDF format to be added to the website, imagine my surprise when I opened three emails containing 86 files! Eighty-six! That’s one file per canon, plus files for tables of contents, appendices, indices and the Digest (which was split into seven files).

I’m still compiling these into coherent, usable and user-friendly documents, and that’s what I’ve spent much of the afternoon and evening doing. The first task was to compile the first 75 PDF documents into one, then remove the redundant pages. Next I created bookmarks of the main sections allowing users to leap straight to the section that they want. The final task is to add hyperlinks to the PDF document’s index so that a user can simply click on the page reference in the index to take them there, rather than navigate using the more cumbersome method of scrolling through page after page.

But this task takes time. So far I’ve spent about 20 hours on it. I’ve got only 19 pages of the index left to bookmark. And it’s a mind-numbingly dull job that is made bearable only by the knowledge that I’ll be left with a highly usable, user-friendly document of which I’ll be very proud.

I’d love to be further on with the development of the SEC website but these supporting tasks take a lot of time, and it’s important to get these jobs right first time (the various liturgy services took about 4-5 hours per service, for example).

The more that people use professionally-designed documents and user-guides the more they expect all electronic documents to be optimized and organized well. Which is a good thing. I could just throw the Canons up on the site as they are, but I feel that I’d be doing everyone a disservice.

As my granny used to say to me, “If you’re going to do something do it well!”