Monthly Archives: February 2012

Watch out for inaccurate citation numbers!

The back-end enhancements mentioned in my last post now allow us to do some significant data improvements.

Over the next few days, I’m going to be doing some work to improve how we represent links into the impressive Ship Register Database provided by the library at Mystic Seaport. Initially, we described this resource as “Ship Register (1857-1900) Database, by G. W. Blunt White Library”. While that gives appropriate credit to Mystic Seaport’s library for creating this incredible database, it doesn’t describe what’s in the database, which is even more important. So we’re splitting out the database’s contents into three sections, reflecting the three publications that are included in this single database.

Those three publications are:

  • New-York Marine Register:  1858
  • American Lloyds’ Registry of American and Foreign Shipping:  1859, 1861-83
  • Record of American and Foreign Shipping:  1871-3, 1875-9, 1881-1900

I did find some discrepancies between what’s listed as being available, and what’s actually available. New-York Marine Register for 1857, for instance, is available on the site, but not searchable by vessel name. The same goes for the 1874 volume of Record of American and Foreign Shipping.

When we’re done, we’ll more accurately represent the sources for this data. However, until then, you may notice a dramatic, but inaccurate, increase in the number of citations in the ShipIndex database. We don’t want to remove any data for those who might be using it during this switch-over, and I decided that duplicate information, in some cases, was preferable to missing information. After we’ve imported all the data that’s linked to the new resources (that is, “New York Marine Register”, “American Lloyds”, etc.), we’ll delete the data listed under the old resource (“Ship Register Database”).

I don’t think it’ll take more than a day or so to get all the new data loaded, and the old data removed, but I’m not completely certain. I’ll add a note to this blog post when that’s complete.

New subscription options; new backend; new currencies

Lots of big changes are now live at The site has just been significantly upgraded, and has much more power than before. Most of this isn’t visible; it’s primarily back-end work, but it will make importing data much quicker, and will also allow for much more flexible access to the world. IfWhen we are mentioned on NPR or in the New York Times (God willing), we should be able to handle the rush.

There are some significant changes for users, though. We now offer fixed-length subscriptions: you can buy access for just two weeks, for three months, for six months, or for a year. You can still subscribe on a monthly basis, and that price has been slightly lowered.

Also, in a big development, you can now pay for access in multiple currencies! If you want to pay in Pounds Sterling, Euros, Australian Dollars, or Canadian Dollars, you can now do that. What this really means is that I absorb the cost of the foreign transaction fee rather than you, but it also means you can feel more comfortable about the cost of the database, particularly if you’re not too familiar with the value of the American dollar.

The new pricing is as follows:

Monthly recurring:     $8 per month

Time-limited subscriptions are as follows:
Two weeks:     $ 6
Three months:  $22
Six months:    $35
One year:      $65

At the moment, I know there are some bits of webcopy that need to be updated, particularly more information up front about the pricing changes. I’ll get to those as quickly as I can.

Please tell me what you think about these changes. What other changes do you think would be helpful?

ShipIndex in London

When I went to the ShipIndex mailroom today (OK, the Trumansburg, NY, post office), I found an envelope from England awaiting me. What was it? It’s ten passes to this year’s “Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE” exposition, in London, at the Olympia Exhibit Hall. I’m excited about going to London to exhibit at this show in a few weeks, and now I can share it with my ten closest friends!

Since I know very few people in London (and the one I know the best is leaving the morning of the conference), I’ve got lots of spare passes. Please let me know if you’d like one — they’re worth about £22 each! (It’s an expensive show.)

I’m getting ready for the show here at ShipIndex world headquarters — I’ve set up my dummy exhibit space to see how it’ll all go together, and my son has been weighing and filling bags of 100 bottle openers apiece. I’m hoping I correctly estimate how many postcards, bottle openers, and brochures to bring, and that I’ll have everything I need, especially since I’ll be in a foreign country with funky electricity and strange customs.

I’ll be at stand 311. If you’ll be in the neighborhood, please do come by and say hello. And if you want a pass, let me know.