Geek Alert! Spreadsheet Adventures

Having completed my spreadsheet of data for historic music loan data in early 19th century St Andrews, I’m keen to start the analysis.  Would that it was so easy!  I now embark on the sharp learning curve of making Excel do what I need it to do.

Graphs from spreadsheets?  Well, I can import data into a Word chart, so that’s a start. But I need to do more.  Anyway, I now have a duplicate spreadsheet for experimentation, to ensure I don’t damage the crucial raw data by accident!  My to-do list looks like this:-

  • Check a few cells where I suspect I slipped up on the data entry (only a few, but each must be double-checked). Then update the experimental sheet AND the crucial raw data sheet to ensure I never use incorrect data.
  • Ensure every empty cell is filled in with zero, to ensure calculations will be correct.
  • Categorise each of 450-odd Sammelbander so I can determine whether certain types went out overwhelmingly more than others:-
  • I – Instrumental; subdivided A – Assorted, H – Harp, K – Keyboard, S- Strings, W – Wind. Further subdivided L – Learning, where appropriate
  • V – Vocal; subdivided A – Assorted, D – Dramatic, R- Religious, S – Secular Songs. Further subdivided L – Learning, where appropriate
  • M – Mixed Instrumental and Vocal. Further subdivided using codes above.
  • Th – Theoretical (not an instrument)
  • Experiment with single volume graphs
  • Experiment with totals for male versus female loans (can I total individual columns, or should I extract columns to form separate spreadsheets?)
  • Experiment with how many volumes at a time can reasonably be displayed in graphic form

There are other questions I’d like to start to answer, too.  I have a list of every borrower, and I  have the data of their chronological borrowing activity, but I need to see if I can display this activity in graphic form.

  • Can I check these names against the archive catalogue to see what I can find out about them?
  • How feasible is it to go through the early proto-census document of St Andrews? Could I, for example, trace Mrs Bertram’s  girls’ boarding school at St Leonard’s?  (Double check date of proto-census document)

Regency Wednesdays

My 9-5 working week consists of two days’ librarianship, one day’s postdoctoral musicology, and then two more days of librarianship.  In principle, my evenings are my own, but I’m currently doing a PGCert (Learning and Teaching in Higher Arts Education), so if I’m going to work in my evenings, it should be towards that.  It doesn’t always work that way, though.  Life has a habit of getting in the way, and sometimes I have writing to do in connection with research.

Tonight, however, I’m enjoying a hiatus.  I am shortly due to submit my ethical approval forms for the PGCert project, and I can’t actually do much until I get approval. The interventions are recorded.  I wasn’t going to turn the questionnaire into a Survey Monkey online one, but I’m having second thoughts now, wondering whether I ought to do so.  I shall seek advice, and then there should be time to create an online survey if I decide to do it.houses-1014074_640

Meanwhile, I’m sitting with an open research notebook and 68 pages of data; last Wednesday I calculated I was two-thirds of the way through transferring it into an Excel spreadsheet.  I’ve reached the end of George IV’s reign, on the cusp of the data for William IV’s, and by the end of tomorrow I should be into the Victorian era.  Can I resist an hour or so this evening, pushing on with the task in hand?  I don’t think so!  It has taken such a long time to get this far, and I really want to start producing interesting graphs – I can’t get started until the whole spreadsheet is completed.

 

Which came first – migraine or mania?

3 busy days, with challenging and enjoyable patches interspersed.  Perhaps it’s not surprising I ended up with a migraine when all the excitement was over, and I was on my way home from a trip to Dundee today.

Thursday? A morning meeting.  A pile of fiddly ongoing cataloguing.  An afternoon struggle with saving my project “interventions” in the correct format.  An evening choir-practice, and a further, late evening struggle with the interventions on my home laptop.  It wouldn’t save to mp4 format, because of the age of the laptop and Microsoft Office package.

Friday arrived.  I visited my GP about my migraines, did my library duties, attended a couple more meetings, and spent some more time on the interventions, using a different laptop and the same headset.  The headset worked at home, but the first recording attempt at work didn’t record any sound.  I spent my entire lunchbreak on it, and I did eventually end up with two mp4 recordings saved on my U-drive, but I hadn’t really had what you’d call a lunchbreak!  I managed to save to the cloud on my PC, and needed help to create shareable links. Hey-ho.  I was ready for dinner out with my workmates!

Which brings me to today. I attended a concert and brief meeting in Dundee, came home, felt really very ill, but still attended to emails and did a quick supermarket dash.

Having reached the point where I can do nothing about anything much until I hear from various people about various things I’m involved with, I can finally give myself permission to flop.  I would force myself to plod on, but actually, at the moment, I can’t!  So … back to the heading of this post. Which came first?  I’ve probably done too much and stressed too much, but the doing needed done, and I would always put the doing ahead of the resting.  Why should other people be made to wait because I had failed to action something?  The headaches are my problem, but they don’t need to cause other people delay.

This is your Librarian Talking: not a “shush” to be heard!

Okay, feeling more alive now, I decided it was time to wrap up my project “interventions” – the two user education guides that I’ve undertaken to devise as part of my PGCert project.

Initially, the intention was to create just one.  It didn’t feel enough, and it didn’t offer the chance to experiment.  Moreover, it didn’t really address the problems that I perceived our students were experiencing.

I decided I’d create two.  I had bold ideas of podcasts, vodcasts, powerpoints with recorded voiceovers, and screencaptures.  I even toyed with the idea of combining a YouTube and screencaptures.  I went to the park one lunchtime and played with YouTube (it’s anonymous, and there weren’t many people around). Then commonsense kicked in.

  • Who wants to listen to me explaining something, without seeing what I’m telling them about?  This is about using electronic resources, guys!
  • Who wants to see me talking about e-resources, without seeing the e-resources?
  • I asked my more technically-minded son how difficult it would  be to combine a video of myself, with screen-captures of our e-resource pages.  “Who wants to see your little face in a circle in the corner of the screen, Mum?”   He wasn’t being unkind.  “We want to see what you’re explaining about”, he continued.  He had confirmed my misgivings.

I decided my first intervention would be something I felt comfortable with: a powerpoint.  I have hardly ever recorded a voiceover, but at least the powerpoint would be easy.  Simplicity itself, in fact.  I spent hours sourcing suitable images, made a presentation about referencing and citation, got it approved in principle by my project supervisor, and scurried home to write and record the script.  Six migraines and a viral infection later, I had a free evening and got the mic/headset out of its box … took a deep breath, and got on with it.  I had a complete intervention – put out the flags!

It had been so easy, I had more time left over than I expected.  So I started my second intervention.  I sourced screencapture software, made a handful of powerpoint slides, and wrote the script.  This morning, I seized the gift of some more free, peaceful hours, and started recording.

Even with a new, more robust internet connection, my computer didn’t load up pages as fast as I needed them to load.  I tried again, this time pausing the recording until they did load.  There are parts of our webpages that seem to occupy half the screen before sliding up again.  Not helpful.  Moreover, flipping between a handful of powerpoint slides and the e-resource pages was clunky, and I wasn’t entirely sure that my guinea-pig cohort (still innocent that they are to be invited to be guinea-pigs) would see exactly what I wanted them to see, or whether they’d get all the recording clutter around the edges of the screen. This wasn’t going well.

I thought again.  What, actually, was wrong with another powerpoint-plus-voiceover? I’m good at powerpoints, I can read a script confidently, and I know the recording will work. Is there really any merit in trying anything else that won’t look as good or flow as smoothly?  It took minimal time to turn all my scripted online demos into screenshots in the powerpoint.  Recording it was easy – why, I’d even practised the words several times already on the functional but ugly screen-capture attempt.  garden-1825638_640

Finally … I have two interventions.  (I wish I could show them off here straight away, but that would spoil the project, so you’ll need to wait! But here’s a picture, just as a teaser.)

And I can put the kettle on!

Incapacitated

I know I should have done more work on my PGCert project this past couple of weeks, but last week I had migraines for six days out of seven, and just getting through a working day was challenge enough.  I’ve been counting – 23 migraines in 25 weeks.  I’ve only taken time off for two migraines in all that time, because I don’t want a bad absence record.  Considering last week was so bad, that means some weeks I had no migraines at all, so I shouldn’t really grumble.  The Migraine Trust has published an advice leaflet which states categorically that migraines are a disability covered by disability legislation. I had no idea of this until the leaflet was pointed out to me!

And then this week, after three days feeling well, I managed to catch man-flu.  (That’s equality for you.)  I feel decidedly hard-done-by!