Category Archives: learning

My journey in XML, or ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears’!

Whoever thought that I’d be taking my first steps in XML?  Wow, this is a real challenge. I can see the brilliance of the concept, and the logic of it, and the reasoning behind it, but I do certainly believe that I’d need a lot more time at my disposal than I have at present, as I don’t think this is something one could learn in a few days, not me anyway. One sure thing I’ve learned from this MA is that I am a slow learner – even moreso than I suspected. I need to take things away with me and turn them over in my mind for a good while in order to ‘grok’ them, and I’m beginning to think that a university setting is not the place in which to do that, there isn’t time. I think I need to get myself an ‘XML for Dummies’, actually, I’d be surprised if there isn’t one 🙂

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<!DOCTYPE TEI PUBLIC “-//TEI P5//DTD Main Document Type//EN” “tei_all.dtd”>
<TEI xmlns=”″>
<title>To One in Paradise</title>
<author>Edgar Allan Poe</author>
<p>This poem was published without a title as part of the short story ‘The Visionary’. It evolved to become ‘To Ianthe in Heaven’ and then ‘To One Beloved’ before it was finally named ‘To One in Paradise’ in 1843</p>
<p><ptr target=””></ptr></p>
<p><ptr target=””></ptr></p>
<l>Thou wast that all to me, love,</l>
<l>For which my soul did pine—</l>
<l>A green isle in the sea, love,</l>
<l>A fountain and a shrine,</l>
<l>All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,</l>
<l>And all the flowers were mine.</l>
<l>Ah, dream too bright to last!</l>
<l>Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise</l>
<l>But to be overcast!</l>
<l>A voice from out the Future cries,</l>
<l>”On! on!”—but o’er the Past</l>
<l>(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies</l>
<l>Mute, motionless, aghast!</l>
<l>For, alas! alas! with me</l>
<l>The light of Life is o’er!</l>
<l>”No more—no more—no more”—</l>
<l>(Such language holds the solemn sea</l>
<l>To the sands upon the shore)</l>
<l>Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,</l>
<l>Or the stricken eagle soar!</l>
<l>And all my days are trances,</l>
<l>And all my nightly dreams</l>
<l>Are where thy dark eye glances,</l>
<l>And where thy footstep gleams—</l>
<l>In what ethereal dances,</l>
<l>By what eternal streams!</l>
<l>Alas! for that accursed time</l>
<l>They bore thee o’er the billow,</l>
<l>From love to titled age and crime,</l>
<l>And an unholy pillow!</l>
<l>From me, and from our misty clime,</l>
<l>Where weeps the silver willow!</l>

I used a free program called XML Copy Editor for this, because my 30-day trial with Oxygen ran out, and there isn’t an option that allows you to pay for it on a weekly basis.


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On Editing and Creation

It always strikes me as funny to write here in this blog, funny peculiar, I mean, because I feel as if I’m talking to myself, and I suppose I am, for the most part. It’s difficult to imagine an audience, and why on earth my audience should want to read my ramblings. Anyway, there it is – I’m writing, and presumably somebody, somewhere, is reading. Who though, is my audience, (if I may presume to have one), and isn’t this one of the great difficulties facing all writers and editors?

I’ve been doing some reading on the subject of editorial theory of late, and it seems clear that one of the most important things to establish before beginning a revision of a text, or a digital edition of some great work, is to consider who you believe will want to read the text, and what the reader will expect from your edition/revision.

George Bornstein, in his book Palimpsest warns us that ‘ We may never hope through textual scholarship to recover an ideal text like a well-wrought urn, but only to increase the self-awareness of the choices that we make in constituting the monument for our own time’. In this way, we, the editors, need to decide what is important in a text, and what may be omitted – not, I presume, due to a shortage of space as would be the case in a printed version, but because ultimately, it would be impractical to include everything. So, do we include the doodles  in the margin of an original text where the author was struck by an idea for a character for the next book, or the ‘note to self’ written because the author was unhapy about the phrasing  of a certain paragraph which he wanted to  later revisit? How does the editor decide what’s really relevant? Given that there is no ‘ideal’ text, no ‘best’ version, how are we to present our new edition? This idea of multiple versions of a single text, as Bornstein, (as above), says ‘shifts our conception of the artwork from product to process’, and so we should begin to consider texts not as static, lifeless things, but as living works that continue to evolve.

An interesting example of this occurs in a poem by Edgar Allan Poe entitled ‘To One in Paradise’ which I used as an example in learning to create an XML file (I know-me? XML? really?).The poem was originally published in 1833 without a title as part of a short story called ‘The Visionary’. From there it evolved into ‘To Ianthe in Heaven’, and afterwards ‘To One Beloved’, before finally becoming ‘To One in Paradise’ in 1843 (see here). Should we look upon these revisions as distinct ‘versions’ simply because the title has been altered? We need to ask ourselves what it is that constitutes a ‘version’ of a text. The Collins Online Dictionary gives this definition,  and if we follow this thinking, it means that this text here is itself a version, because it started out as something else altogether (and had a different title). I know this because I wrote it.

As you’ve come this far, it might be fun to take a look at this post, where I attempt to create an XML file from the Edgar Allan Poe poem I mentioned.




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It’s beginning to look a lot like…

And so it’s the end of the first term already, the ‘C’ word is everywhere, and the shop windows are blinding in their kitchy, screaming glitter. I should be shopping!   I’m not used to semesterisation, and I must admit, I’m not liking it. The end has crept up suddenly, like a dark shadow, and it’s relentless, you could say it ‘looms’. I’m not ready to submit everything, I haven’t read enough, I’m not prepared. Please can I have some more time? I was never that person who delayed starting an essay until a few days before the due date, I never left things so late that I needed to stay up all night to work on them. I wouldn’t have felt ‘right’, but this term has been a completely different animal.

I believe that from day one I didn’t gel with what was happening here. I don’t know why – maybe I’m actually a bit slow to catch on, you know, a can short of a six-pack, that sort of thing. Whatever, it’s all just trundled happily downhill frome then on. While I fully understand that people operate on different levels, (wouldn’t it be so dull if we all had the same thoughts, or believed the same things, or saw with the same eyes?), there comes a point when you need to be realistic. Here, then, is my reality, (at 12.55 am on a Wednesday in November), I’m trying to wade through an MA that I jumped into without thinking enough about whether it was the right move or not. There, I’ve said it! I’ve come to realise that just because you put your mind to something it does not mean that it gets easier, or ensures that you feel better about it, or even that you learn quicker – none of the above apply here.

Yes friends, this is a low point, and there have been many like it since this began in September. But I’m stubborn, and I’m not going to give up, not just yet anyway, not tonight. I’m posting a poem here because it just popped into my head – my head is like that – it’s full of wonderful poems to suit every occasion. Obviously, Henley wrote this about something far more troubling than what to put in a portfolio that would earn him a degree, but that’s of no matter here –  read this, it will do you good:



By William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

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New Tools, New Thinking


My new toy!

So it’s been a number of weeks now since I bought my Asus Transformer Book T100. (it sounds like something from a video game). The thinking behind the purchase was sound – I needed something small and light I could take to college every day, something that wouldn’t feel as if I was carrying a dead body in my back-pack. I love my Macbook, but it’s just too heavy to drag with me all day. It’s also old-ish, but I couldn’t finance a new Mac just now. Here’s what I would have bought though, if I could have: air

I shouldn’t expect the Asus to perform like a Mac, it’s unrealistic. Isn’t it amazing how we become so used to one particular tool that it’s a shock to the system when we have to use something different? I know, it was about time I learned the ins and outs of Windows – I’ve used the OS before, but not for long enough to understand how it thinks. The college does Windows, it’s all over the place, and I can understand that PCs are a less expensive option for an environment such as a college or a workplace, it makes sense.

The Asus fills my requirements adequately though– it weighs 1.21 lbs, so it’s no heavier than a hardback book. Great! Mission Accomplished! I really do like the tidy size, and the fact that it’s not terribly pretentious and overdone.
Once I’d gotten over the fact that it thinks differently, I was more-or-less OK, I mean, it runs Windows 8. I can mostly get my head around configuring it to do what I wanted. I’ve had some difficulty finding things, but in my defence, I tend to search in the logical places, the folders that sound as if they might hold what I’m looking for. No matter, there’s always Google!

I do have to say that the touch-pad is not as responsive as I would have expected. It appears that you need to click very ‘decisively’, almost forcefully, or your command is ignored completely. Not good, but not quite a disaster either – just different.

I love the long battery-life, but I’m not fond of how long it takes to charge. Overnight charging is the only answer.

Here’s a real review by someone who knows what they’re talking about in terms of specs and tech stuff.

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I’m not a complete idiot – some parts are missing!

I didn’t want my first post here to be a negative one, really I didn’t,  though I feel I should recount the hideous experience I’ve been having while trying to find my way around WordPress. I refuse to believe the fault is purely mine, (you knew I’d say that, right?), and I don’t like that a computer programme makes me feel stupid, it doesn’t sit well with me. I believe that technology exists to make life easier, (is this not the whole idea?), and when it results instead in frustration, extra grey hairs, weeping and grinding of teeth etc, then we must admit that there is a problem.

I had notions of this being a fairly simple process – there is a basic structure to be followed which should yield an end product. How difficult can that be, right?

I’m saving this post as a draft, so that I can publish it when I do eventually get this thing up and running, because as it is, I have a front page and a photo. I can’t even work out how to get menus to work.

I think I’m in the wrong class!  🙁

Boromir's Warning


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