Monthly Archives: April 2010

Salt Lake City, here we come…

The team is headed to the National Genealogical Society conference, in Salt Lake City, tomorrow. We’re very excited about this — it’ll be our first big place to advertise the service for individuals, and we’re very much looking forward to getting as much feedback as we can. We’ll have brochures, bottle openers, stickers, and probably some candies at the booth, along with some new banners and display stuff.

Plus, we’ll have a special subscription offer for attendees of the NGS conference, so please come by and say hello, pick up a brochure, and learn about our special offer.

Exhibits open on Wednesday at 9:30, and are open until 5pm. On Thursday and Friday, exhibits are open 9 to 5, and on Saturday they’re open 9 to 3. The exhibit hall is open to the public, without charge, so if you’re in the area, please come by BOOTH 612 to check us out and to say hello.

Comments catastrophe!

OK, maybe not “catastrophe,” but it looks like we haven’t received any comments that folks submitted via our ‘contact us’ form, since the end of March. If you emailed us directly, which you can always do, at comments (at) shipindex (dot) org, then we did get it. But if you submitted it via the form, we didn’t. Many apologies.

We’ll get the form fixed asap, and I’ll update this post, and add a new post, when we know it’s working again. Our tech team has a bug running through it (the kind that affects humans, not the kind that affects computers), so we’re a bit understaffed today. As a result, it might take us a day or so to troubleshoot and fix the problem. Until then, and after if you prefer, feel free to email us at comments (at) shipindex (dot) org, or email me directly at peter (at) shipindex (dot) org.

Oh, we also added three Navy Records Society volumes yesterday, and got another one complete and ready to be loaded very soon. Also, we’ve been working on an absolutely enormous file for weeks and weeks and weeks, and I hope it’ll be done very soon. Man, I’ll be glad to be done with that file. Sheesh.


Is there a better way to present this data?

I’ve been working on a big file that’s going to be very useful to subscribers, especially those interested in World War II vessels. H.T. Lenton’s tome, British and Imperial Warships of the Second World War, is an incredible resource. Its 750+ pages are absolutely jam-packed with useful content, but it has presented me with a few challenging issues about how to manage this data. I thought I’d describe some of it here, explain what my plan is, and see if the greater good has any better suggestions. There’s still time to modify how this resource is managed. I’ve probably invested at least 30 full hours in preparing this file – and that doesn’t include a significant amount of work done by another person before me – and I still have a long way to go. But that’s what it takes, sometimes, to get a resource like this one ready to add to the database.

The first part of this remarkable volume looks at larger, named vessels, organized by vessel type and class. As one example, the “Corvettes and Frigates” section is divided into entries on the “Flower” class, the “River” class, the “Kil-” class, and four more classes. (The introduction has several fascinating paragraphs about the peregrinations of naming vessels, and shows how complicated the whole process was. A fair bit of background knowledge is required just to understand this section!) After some commentary on the design and development of the class, Lenton provides tables showing brief history information for every vessel in a class. Information may be quite extensive, or it might consist of as little as an indication of the intended builder and the approximate cancellation date (for example, for vessels ordered but not begun before the war ended).

This works fine for named vessels, but creates a conundrum for unnamed vessels. In the LCM (Landing Craft Mechanised) section, for example, the index notes that “LCM.21-118” appear on pg 490; “LCM.119-220” on pg 491, “LCM.221-334” on pg 492, etc. Of the 100+ ships on each page, though, just two to three dozen have any information at all about the vessel, and that information is slight, at best. For the LCMs, most have no Building or Completion information. Of the ones that have “Fate” information, it usually reads something like “Lost cause unknown Algiers ../11/42.” (Meaning it was lost in November 1942, but the exact date and cause is not known.)

To me, this information might be useful to someone, and I don’t want to not include the entry for that vessel. But for each one like that, there are several where no information at all is included, and I believe that adding an entry to should imply that at least SOMETHING is available in the resource. So I’ve decided that what I’ll do is expand entries like “LCM.21-118” to be “LCM.21”, “LCM.22”, “LCM.23”, etc., up to “LCM.118”. Then I’ll compare my list with the book itself. If there’s any information at all about the vessel, I’ll keep the entry. If there is no information beyond its listing on the page – nothing about where it was built, or how it was lost, for instance – then I’ll delete it. My thought is that if the volume offers one piece of information, I’ll include the vessel name in the index.

Still, it’s worth noting that for people who are working on an unlisted LCM, the volume may contain information about the LCM class that might be relevant. And if you’re looking for an image of a specific auxiliary vessel, it may be that an image of a different vessel in the same class will do. It appears that the most common vessel type in which this will apply will be the LCMs, of which several thousand were built, but it will be interesting to see how it actually turns out.

Am I doing the right thing? Should I be handling this in some other way? Is there some other way that I should note the amount of information presented? I’d welcome your comments – if there’s a better way of doing it, now’s the time for me to hear about it.

Two new institutional subscribers

I’m pleased to report that two institutions have signed up for institutional subscriptions in the past week. Everyone at the world headquarters is excited about this. The two institutions are pretty far away from each other: East Carolina University, which offers an excellent Masters program in Maritime Studies (admittedly, as a graduate of that program, I might be a bit biased), and the Australian National Maritime Museum, in Sydney. So, while they may be some 9700 miles apart from each other, they share excellent company. (BTW, try using Google Maps to get driving directions from one to the other. In a nutshell, drive across the country to Gas Works Park in Seattle, kayak 2756 miles to Hawaii, drive down to Honolulu, then get back in the kayak and paddle 3879 miles to Japan. Why even stop in Hawaii? Really, Google? You then still need to paddle another 3300 miles down to the top of Australia, and then drive down to Sydney. I think it would be easier to just drive the 100+ miles to the Outer Banks, and start paddling from there, through the Panama Canal, and straight down to Sydney. But who am I to questions Google Topeka?)

Any individual associated with ECU (that is, any student, faculty, or staffmember) can access the complete database within Joyner Library, anywhere on campus, or from home. Anyone working from within the ANMM library, in Sydney, can similarly access the entire premium database.

Several other institutions are currently trialing If you’re affiliated with an institution that you think might benefit from access to the database, please have them give us a call. We’re still offering significant plankowner discounts that can save them a lot of money.