How to manage Multiple Sources of Historical Data

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This article shows ways to use Acute Software's Diary to manage multiple sources of historical information. Diagram showing multiple sources used in Acute Softwares Diary.

For example, you want to create a historical log of your Fathers WWI experience based on several sources of information such as personal diaries, army units official log as well as key dates in History

1. Identify and assign a keyword for each of your sources

The very first step is to work out a simple keyword to each of your sources. E.g.
war = entries from your Dad's war diaries
unitLog = events from the units official logbook
history = dates or events from history, as typed in from a reference book or newspapers

NOTE -Keywords are important, and it is not easy to change them after you have spent several months entering data, so it is important that you pick the keywords carefully and use them consistently.

2. Setup your Custom Filters

So that you can view just the entries from certain sources (eg you just want to see all entries from your Dad's war diary), you need to setup a filter for each of the data sources.
HINT - you can save time by using the sample “filters.txt” file below. Simply save it to your hard drive on top of your existing filters file

Start the diary and go to the View menu and choose 'Setup Custom Filters'

Click the Add button in the Custom Filter Setup screen

In the 'Edit Custom Filter' screen, enter the data as follows.

Name of Custom Filter =Dads War Diary
Which Field Determines this Filter = Reference
Field - Min = war
Field - Max = war

Then Click OK
When you get to the next screen, click SAVE before closing the Custom Filters screen.

Repeat for your other diary sources (unit logbooks and history) - an example filters.txt file is below (which you can use as a starting point as it is often faster to edit these in Notepad)

C:\Program Files\acute\netDiary\data\filters.txt
Normal Events, , , ,
Reminders, dateRemind, 1999, 2999
PC Usage, ActionID, Usage,
File Usage, ActionID, PCFile,
Unit Log,Reference,unitLog,unitLog,
Dads War Diary,Reference,war,war,
Historical Events,Reference,history,history

3. Setup your Reference File

Add the name of each of your sources to the common_references.txt file to allow you to pick them from a drop down list.
C:\Program Files\acute\netDiary\data\common_references.txt
General Work

4. Entering the Data from the main Diary

The basic idea is to enter all the information into your diary, but specify where the information was sourced as you enter the data. This is done in the Add event screen of the diary. When you first add an event, click the 'Categories' tab, and type the word war into the “Reference” field. (or pick it from the drop down list)
Then click the General tab and enter the details before clicking save.

4a - An easier way to enter data - 'Quick Event Recorder”

Screenshot of Event Recorder The diary comes with a separate program (EventRecorder.exe) in your installed program directory, which is great for entering lots of similar events (eg typing information in from a paper diary). The screenshot below shows the program already configured, and keeps track of what you entered for your current session.

(Note - the times may be irrelevant or unknown, but they serve to order the diary entries on the screen - it is best not to use the same time and date for all records, otherwise you need to switch to ListView to edit them and they are hard to read in the main diary)

To configure the Quick Add entries, use the Edit menu to add your new entries as shown on the right. All you need to specify is the Default reference as defined in Step 1 of this document

5. Using the Diary to Filter Events

By default, the Diary will show all events you have entered, but to filter events you need to go to the View menu and tick the 'Show List of Filters'

Diagram showing filtered events in Acute Softwares Diary. This brings up a sidebar on the Right hand side of the screen with the filters you have chosen in the previous steps.

When the 'Normal Events' is ticked, all events are shown, but you can untick this and toggle your custom views (Dads Diary, Unit Logs and Historical Events) to see only those events.

This can also be seen in 'List View' on a monthly basis if there are not that many events.
HINT - Listview is essential for modifying events which fall on the exact same time and date - you cannot select these in Grid mode (both shown in a single entry), so use List View to edit them

6. Exporting and Printing Events

Go to the File menu and choose 'Export Appointments.
Pick the date range you want and make sure 'Export to Web (HTML)' is selected.
When you click 'OK' it will create a series of webpages on your hard drive linked with an index, so that you can browse through and read the events in a chronological order.

7. Customising the HTML Export

You can edit the way the webpage is created by modifying the Style sheet in your C:\Program Files\acute\netDiary\data folder (the file is called style.css)

This is a standard CSS file (Cascading Style Sheet) and it is used to setup the size and type of fonts in your webpage.The default style sheet is shown below
BODY {  font-size:8pt; FONT-FAMILY:Verdana;  }
NORMAL {    font-size:8pt; FONT-FAMILY:Verdana;  }
A:link {        font-size:8pt; COLOR: blue;TEXT-DECORATION:none}
A:visited { color: #003399; font-size:8pt;TEXT-DECORATION:none }
A:hover {   color:#FF3300;TEXT-DECORATION:underline}
TD {    font-size:8pt; valign=top; FONT-FAMILY:Verdana;  }
H1 {    font-size:220%; FONT-WEIGHT:NORMAL; padding: 10px 0px 0px 0px; margin:0px; }
H2 {    font-size:160%; FONT-WEIGHT:NORMAL; margin:0px 0px 0px 0px; padding:0px; }
H3 {    font-size:120%; FONT-WEIGHT:BOLD; margin:0px 0px 0px 0px; padding:1px; letter-spacing:0.05em; }
H4 {    font-size:140%; FONT-WEIGHT:NORMAL; margin:0px 0px 0px 0px; padding:1px; }
H5 {    font-size:12pt; FONT-FAMILY:Arial; color:#00008B ; FONT-WEIGHT:NORMAL; margin:0px 0px 0px 0px; padding: 0px 0px 0px 0px; }
< / STYLE >

To make a larger print version of the Web page, you can modify the font-size values from 8 to 10 or 12 in the highlighted red areas above.

8. Backing up your Data

Although this is the last section in this article, it is probably the most important part. You can spend a lot of time entering information, and after several years you will collect a sizable amount- you don't want to lose this information if your PC crashes, or a disaster happens (fire, flood, theft).

All your information is held in the \data subfolder where you installed the diary- by default this is C:\Program Files\acute\netDiary\data and it is important that you back this up regularly.

There is one file created for each month, and the filenaming convention is Dyyyymm.DAT (yyyy = year, mm=month in digits). These are standard text files which can be 'repaired' with a normal text editor if done carefully - be aware that the field separator is the standard CHR(31)

[End Article]

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written by Duncan Murray 29/7/2007, © Acute Software 2007-2008