Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Plodding Along With Modern Technology

Two days of re-entering Kusaal data and I’m already going cross-eyed! Good thing there’s e-mail, Windows Messenger, and Facebook to provide the occasional distraction… I mean, change of pace, as people pop on to send messages, chat, post photos, and update their status to inform others on-line what they’re up to. It’s so cool to be able to sit at alone at home (or in a room at Wycliffe’s Toronto office like I am today) and still feel networked to the larger world! Yesterday, I was chatting with Josh in Kitchener, a friend in Waterloo, and a Brazilian living in England that I first connected with when she was a linguistics student in the USA.

So far I’ve got almost 300 of the 2000+ words in my database converted to the new Unicode compatible font. Hope you don’t mind me being honest, but much of this work is really boring & repetitive! I thought that one of the major benefits of computers was that they could automatically do a lot of the sheer repetitive stuff and leave us human beings freer to do the creative thinking stuff! Guess it doesn’t apply to everything yet.

There’s probably a little program out there somewhere that will convert older fonts to newer Unicode compatible ones, but finding one that will handle the particular font I was using, and employing it successfully, is a bit daunting to a non-techie like me. And trying to find a Wycliffe or SIL techie to help is like pulling teeth! Most are so busy that they don’t have time for minor stuff like this. It often takes decades to get replies to e-mail (okay, I know I’m exaggerating a bit here, but work with me, okay? :)

Someone suggested that I phone instead, so I tried that. After an hour of talking to receptionists, being transferred to various places, listening to and leaving voice mail recordings, talking to various technical folks who recommended that I talk to other technical folks, and dialling back and forth between North Carolina, Texas, and British Columbia, I was no further ahead than when I’d started! If you know of any computer people that have realized that they are merely a cog in a machine somewhere rather than changing the world like they thought they would, and who are now looking for a chance to be really helpful and important, please send them to Wycliffe! We need them desperately.

However, manually re-entering the data does give me a fresh chance to look at it and listen to the sound files again. And you know what? I’ve noticed things I never saw or heard before! This allows me to refine the data and make it (hopefully!) even more accurate, which will facilitate better analysis too.

I’m scrambling to get as much of this done while I have time to do it. A busy couple of weeks are looming on the horizon:

  • A training seminar and Evening With Wycliffe presentation in Waterloo later on this week.
  • A speaking engagement at Lisle Memorial Baptist Church (our main ministry partner) in Toronto on Sunday.
  • A meeting with the Missions Committee of Grace Baptist Church (another ministry partner) in Ottawa the following weekend.
  • A speaking engagement at Grace Baptist on the Sunday morning.
  • A two-hour Wycliffe presentation later that same Sunday afternoon at a church in Athens, ON.
  • A one-day Discover Wycliffe seminar in Toronto the second weekend in June for more serious inquirers who want to know what’s involved in serving with Wycliffe.

Okay, I think this change of pace has gone on long enough (insert sound of whip snapping here :) Back to data entry!

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